Bodi faces pos­si­ble 15 years for match-fix­ing

Saturday Star - - FRONT PAGE -

SAMEER NAIK and KAR­ISHMA DIPA

FOR­MER Proteas bats­man Gu­lam Bodi, 39, cut a lonely fig­ure as he stood in the dock in court 13 at the Pre­to­ria spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crimes Court yes­ter­day.

Sport­ing a red T-shirt and jeans, Bodi ner­vously glanced around the court­room be­fore pro­ceed­ings be­gan.

He was a shadow of the man of his days as one of the most lethal bats­man in the coun­try, look­ing worn out and drained, with tears run­ning down his face.

As pro­ceed­ings started, Bodi clasped his hands to­gether and tucked them be­hind his back, as mag­is­trate Ni­cola Set­sho­goe be­gan read­ing out the cor­rup­tion charges he was fac­ing.

The for­mer Ti­tans, Lions and Dol­phins crick­eter glanced down at his feet as mag­is­trate Set­sho­goe in­formed Bodi that he po­ten­tially faced a min­i­mum of 15 years be­hind bars for the crimes he com­mit­ted.

De­spite the lengthy prison term he could face as a first-time of­fender, Bodi told the court yes­ter­day he pleaded guilty to all eight cor­rup­tion charges.

He is be­ing charged un­der a lit­tle-known act, the Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act, which makes pro­vi­sion for the pros­e­cu­tion of cor­rupt be­hav­iour within sport­ing events.

The act was in­tro­duced af­ter the 2000 match-fix­ing saga in­volv­ing the late Han­sie Cronje.

In Jan­uary 2016 Bodi was sus­pended by Cricket SA (CSA) for 20 years for his part in con­triv­ing to fix matches in the 2015 edi­tion of the Ram Slam Chal­lenge, the coun­try’s pre­mier T20 com­pe­ti­tion.

He was banned from par­tic­i­pat­ing in, or be­ing in­volved in any ca­pac­ity in, any in­ter­na­tional or do­mes­tic match or any other kind of func­tion, event or ac­tiv­ity that was au­tho­rised, or­gan­ised, sanc­tioned, recog­nised or sup­ported in any way by CSA, the ICC, a na­tional cricket fed­er­a­tion or any mem­ber of a na­tional cricket fed­er­a­tion.

Six other play­ers, Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolek­ile, Lon­wabo Tsot­sobe, Jean Symes, Pumi Mat­shikwe and Ethy Mb­ha­lati were also im­pli­cated in the match-fix­ing scan­dal of 2015 and could be pris­oned too.

Bodi’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Si­nenhlanhla Mn­guni, said his client ac­knowl­edged his wrong­do­ing and pleaded for the court’s mercy.

Both the state and de­fence told the court they needed more time to gather ev­i­dence and com­pile reports that they re­quired for sen­tenc­ing pro­ce­dures.

Mag­is­trate Set­sho­goe said she had no is­sue with a post­pone­ment, as the court ac­knowl­edged Bodi handed him­self in and had fully co-op­er­ated with au­thor­i­ties since his ar­rest in July.

If Bodi and the other six crick­eters in­volved are im­pris­oned, it will rep­re­sent a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for the in­flu­ence of the law in cor­rup­tion in sport.

Al­though on the statute book since 2004, the Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act hasn’t been ex­er­cised un­til now.

Out­side the court, Bodi ex­pressed re­morse for his ac­tions.

“It has been a very tough few years,” he told the Satur­day Star.

“I’ve been banned for 20 years. That’s al­ready a long sen­tence.

“So for me not to be able to do some­thing I loved my en­tire life has been ter­ri­bly hard.

“I haven’t re­ally set­tled in the last three years.

“It’s been a con­stant bat­tle. “Just re­cently I man­aged to get a job, and af­ter three years of run­ning around and strug­gling, things started slowly look­ing a bit bet­ter, and now this comes up.

“Its com­pletely shat­tered me,” he said .

| OUPA MOKOENA African News Agency (ANA)

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