New twist in Roebuck death

2011-11-14 07:32

Sydney - Renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck plunged to his death from a hotel window in South Africa after being questioned by police about an alleged sexual assault, his employer said on Monday.

The English-born Roebuck, 55 and a former first-class cricketer, was covering the ongoing Test series between South Africa and Australia when he died on Saturday night.

The SAPS confirmed he committed suicide and the Australian newspaper group he worked for, Fairfax Media, said he fell to his death from the Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town.

Roebuck had written on cricket for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne since 1984, and the newspapers said his death followed questioning by police from the sexual crimes unit about an alleged sexual assault.

They provided no further details although The Australian newspaper said the allegations involved an incident last week.

Fairfax said Roebuck was agitated and asked a fellow cricket journalist for help.

"Can you come down to my room quickly? I've got a problem," he said and asked for help to find a lawyer.

Minutes later Roebuck, regarded by many as the finest cricket writer of his generation, fell to his death from a window. The Australian said he landed on an awning above the hotel foyer.

Fairfax said it was believed a uniformed police officer was in the room at the time. South African police said an inquest had been opened but would not comment further.

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

He also regularly commentated for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Never far from controversy, he received a suspended prison sentence in England in 2001 for common assault after caning three South African teenage cricketers who had stayed with him in 1999.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who played alongside Roebuck at Somerset, led tributes to him.

"He was never afraid to tackle the big issues in world cricket and would often be a lone voice if he believed strongly in the cause," Waugh told Fairfax media.

"As a captain I would always be keen to read Peter's take on the previous day's play."

Mark Taylor, whom Waugh succeeded as captain of Australia in 1999, said Roebuck's opinion was greatly respected as it was based on so much experience.

"Not every player, me included, agreed with what he said all the time. We did know it wasn't based on a whim, it was based on a lot of experience," he said.

Another former Australian captain, Greg Chappell, highlighted Roebuck's philanthropic work with the charity The LBW Trust - Learning for a Better World.

"Something like 250 kids in cricket-playing countries around the world, underprivileged kids are being educated through the LBW Trust, and that was from his vision," Chappell told the Herald.


  • Raeez - 2011-11-14 08:44

    eiy sun!

  • Alan - 2011-11-14 08:46

    very sad

  • Joanne - 2011-11-14 09:27

    Until an investigation and autopsy are completed, this can't really be called a suicide - only an alleged suicide. Am I wrong?

      Nigel - 2011-11-14 09:47

      Absolutely right. A bit mysterious isn't it?

      Gerda - 2011-11-14 09:57

      ' it was believed a uniformed police officer was in the room at the time'...... couldn't he have prevented the person from jumping?

      Gerald - 2011-11-14 10:02

      maybe the Uniformed officer did not understand the difference between push and pull

      Gunner - 2011-11-14 11:44

      Possibly another betting saga mystery....maybe he wanted to reveal some info on the first test.Similar to Bob Woolmer murder

      Jeff - 2011-11-14 18:14

      Maybe the fact that he beat 3 south africans has something to do with it.

  • Van - 2011-11-14 10:04

    Maybe he was not prepared to pay the bribe and was pushed by the cop, who knows?

  • Jeff - 2011-11-14 10:36

    Surely there is cctv footage available in most major hotels that should show this incident?

      Reon - 2011-11-14 13:22

      In his room?

  • Braam - 2011-11-14 10:52

    The Cop...White or Black Male or Female....

      michael.jubiler - 2011-11-14 11:22

      .... and that would make a difference why exactly???

  • Lucy - 2011-11-14 16:37

    To be honest here guys, after the Fred van der Fyfer (Inge Lotz) debacle with the police in which it was proven they planted evidence, I feel that Fairfax Media should have sent their own team over here to investigate. Sorry but I don't just automatically trust the SAPS - Sorry to the decent ones on the force but that's the way I feel.

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 16:43

      Don't trust them, never will.

  • Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 16:40

    What would be his reasons for committing suicide? Caning three boys, maybe they were naughty little buggers lol? Man, almost all my teachers caned me. ha ha Sounds like a murder + cover up to me. A uniformed police office was in the room at the time? What was going on there, why didn't the officer stop him, why and how was he there in the first place?

      Chumscrubber1 - 2011-11-14 17:23

      Certainly not impossible, but in this case improbable. I have a feeling he did something really bad or embarassing for himself - so much so he could not face life with the truth exposed. Nothing to do with match fixing this time, you can cane me if I'm wrong. Sad how some have skeletons in their closets and have to live with them their whole lives - and a bit scary.

      david.s.lewisohn - 2011-11-14 17:25

      It will probably turn out that he was secretly gay and was interfering with boys. Just wait and see.

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 17:26

      Then why did they get defensive when asked to comment on the officer in the room. If it's a real suicide then you'll have to answer for the unusual incidence of that officer.

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 17:28

      It's the duty of the police to prevent any suicide... so what did this officer do to try and prevent this man and why is there no immediate statement from him?

  • Dianne - 2011-11-14 16:43

    sometheeeeng she smells like feeeeesh?

  • david.s.lewisohn - 2011-11-14 16:48

    Crime of a sexual nature it's being said. No wife I notice, and caned some boys staying with him !! An incident last week( S.M.Herald), boys, Pietermaritzberg home. Are they perhapps all interconnected??

      Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 17:33

      Not really, they use the word "alleged" quite a lot there. Also, "alleged" sexual assault can be anything... even a slap on the bum. Not really good enough reason for suicide. Even... "alleged" suicide. They also refused to comment on the officer in the room. If there was nothing to hide, they wouldn't be silent on that point now would they?

  • Nicholas.Spaggiari - 2011-11-14 17:29

    It's the duty of the police to stop any suicide... so what did this officer do to try and stop him from killing himself and why is there no immediate statement from this officer?

  • Len - 2011-11-14 17:33

    Interestingly, his newspaper did not say "he was pushed out of a window" They say he fell out of a window. It is not a regular occurrence for an adult to fall off a window unless they are intoxicated, pushed or jumped on their own. I remember when I first heard about Dewani (incidentally, exactly a year ago) murder, I was so willing to believe it was a typical random SA crime, rather than a planned hit by a British subject on a Swede.

  • Bruce - 2011-11-14 17:52

    Now where have I heard this before, A suspect being questioned by the SA Police dives out of the window and kills himself while an officer is present. Takes you back a few years.

  • Winsome - 2011-11-14 19:27

    There seems to be a spate of media people accused of alleged sexual assaults this year - I wonder if this is another way of trying to blackmail people? It seems a little odd that there are so many, or am I wrong here?

  • duncanslabber - 2011-11-14 19:41

    I think(and this is only my personal view) the policeman was there to arrest him. The police officer may have allowed him to call the other journalist to "help" him with a lawyer etc as a favour as he was a celebrity in cricket circles (,aybe the policeman recognised him as someone famouse,i don't know). They could have been waiting for the other journo to come to his room. Realising that everything was about to be made public and as we all fear jail (esp for sex crimes), he may have just decided to jump. Just my viewpoint.

  • Lucy - 2011-11-16 02:10

    Okay so let me get this straight here. A man whose pen is mightier than the sword, educated, and could have threatened to expose corruption in the form of bribery using his platform, and can probably afford some of the best legal defense in the world decided to jump? And that after calling his friend for help first? Very peculiar don't you think?

  • odupreez - 2011-11-19 09:52

    Why would a person who had called for help and a lawyer commit suicide ??

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