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National & Provincial
Nov 14 2011 10:02AM
 
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Nadine Ford-Kritzinger

British cricket writer and television commentator Peter Roebuck who was found dead at his Cape Town hotel committed suicide, the police said on Sunday.

But it emerged on Sunday that there could be a link between the retired cricketer’s death and a indecent assault charge brought against him earlier that day.

Police said the renowned writer, who was in Cape Town for the two–Test series between South Africa and Australia, was found dead on Saturday.

National police spokesperson Col Vishnu Naidoo on Sunday confirmed that an inquest docket into the death of the British official had been opened.

He said: “The purpose of the inquest docket is to determine the circumstances surrounding the death, which will include the time and cause of death.”

Naidoo would not answer any further questions relating to the indecent assault charge.

But when The New Age queried an indecent assault charge laid at Claremont police station and spoke to Capt Malusi Mgxwathi on Sunday, Mgxwathi said: “This is the same man who committed suicide at the hotel.”

The New Age source – who on Sunday spoke on condition of anonymity – said Roebuck jumped to his death when he was informed that a complaint of a sexual nature had been made against him by a friend whom he met on Facebook.

Roebuck 55, who arrived in Cape Town from Pietermaritzburg earlier last week, allegedly met the 26-year-old male a few days ago.

The pair later met at the hotel, where they were allegedly meant to discuss a possible university sponsorship for the male Zimbabwean.

The New Age source said Roebuck allegedly tried to seduce the Facebook friend and have sex with him against his will.

The man reportedly went to Claremont police station and laid charges of indecent assault against Roebuck. When police confronted Roebuck in his hotel at about 9pm on Saturday, with the intention of effecting an arrest, the British man allegedly asked to be allowed to change his clothes. In the process he managed to move close to a window and jumped out.

While police are officially remaining mum on the details leading up to Roebuck’s death, hotel staff told The New Age that he had jumped to his death.

The staff said Roebuck jumped out of a sixth-floor window and landed on the roof of the entrance of the hotel.

These accounts differ from initial police reports earlier yesterday, which suggested that Roebuck was found dead in his room.

The British-born Roebuck studied law at Cambridge and played 335 first-class matches before making a career writing about the sport, quickly establishing an avid following with his forthright, intelligent prose.

He was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1988, captained English county team Somerset in the 1980s and turned out regularly for Devon after retiring from top-level cricket in 1991.

He regularly commentated for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, wrote for the nation’s Fairfax newspapers and built a reputation as one of the best columnists on the sport.

He penned several books on cricket and was a sometimes polarising figure, known for his strong views and admired as one of cricket’s most articulate and incisive minds.

“The team for the first Test against New Zealand has become harder to predict,” Roebuck wrote, referring to the upcoming series.

“Mind you, a lot can happen in a week. It just did.”

On Sunday colleagues were asked to positively identify the body as that of Roebuck at the Salt River state mortuary.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean who had laid the assault complaint could not be reached.

nadinef@thenewage.co.za

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