Late cricket writer's family seeks answers

2015-08-03 07:59
Peter Roebuck (File)

Sydney - An inquest into the apparent suicide of renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck in South Africa four years ago is set to be reopened, his former employer reported Monday.

English-born Roebuck, 55, was covering the Test series between South Africa and Australia in 2011 when he plunged to his death from the Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town.

South African police said he leapt out of a sixth floor window after two officers arrived to arrest him over a claim of sexual assault by a Zimbabwean man.

Australia's Fairfax Media said his family had since dealt with obstructionism from authorities with a closed hearing in Cape Town into the circumstances of the death in 2013 about which neither they nor the continent's largest law firm, which represents them, were notified.

The newspaper group, which had employed Roebuck since 1984, claimed access to any forensic evidence taken from the hotel room was denied, as was a police toxicology report and fingerprints from the window, while requests for his mobile phone were rejected.

Roebuck's 87-year-old mother Elizabeth said that as a result she has never had questions answered about how he died while in the custody of two police officers.

The family believes that fingerprints from the window must be produced to prove he opened it amid doubts that he would have been able to do so and jump in the officers' presence.

"After a struggle of nearly four years since my son lost his life whilst in police custody I am immensely heartened and relieved by the advice from our lawyers in Cape Town that the inquest is to be reopened," she told Fairfax.

"I understand that counsel has been instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions and that it is very likely that he will advise that we should now be given all the forensic evidence that has so far been denied us.

"The family and all those who believed in Peter will surely now at long last learn the truth about the circumstances leading up to his death and we look forward with some anticipation to seeing the witnesses to it asked the questions that we want answering."

George van Niekerk, a lawyer at the firm appointed by the family, added: "A decision is now imminent and there is no reason to believe that it will not be reopened."

Roebuck, a former Somerset captain, played 335 first-class matches before making a career writing about the sport. He was regarded by many as the finest cricket writer of his generation with his forthright, intelligent prose establishing an avid following.

He also regularly commentated for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Read more on:    cricket

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