Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hold the black arm bands: The sad closing chapter in Peter Roebuck's life exposed by his final victim

And so, finally, the truth is out. Broken not by the South African Police, who witnessed the suicide of cricket writer Peter Roebuck, and not by the cricket writers, who continue to eulogise about their dodgy colleague.

Ultimately, the awful truth comes from the man last abused by Roebuck, the former Somerset captain convicted of common assault against three 19-year-old South Africans in 2001.

When Roebuck threw himself 70 feet to his death out of his Newlands Sun hotel window on Saturday night at around 9pm, he did so after being confronted by two policemen and a 26-year-old called Itai Gondo.

When I dared to question the nature of Roebuck's death and his proclivities in life, I was widely condemned for homophobia and scandalous innuendo - though many appreciated a more honest obituary than the ones being written by his fellow cricket writers on Monday morning.

Gondo puts that shameful minority in their place. He explains how he was lured into a meeting via Facebook by the articulate former Millfield and Cambridge graduate, a man granted a position of status as a cricket writer and commentator by unquestioning ABC and Fairfax executives despite his 2001 convictions.

Gondo describes himself as a "penniless refugee" from Zimbabwe who knew one of the "adopted sons" who live at Roebuck's "cricket coaching" home in Pietermaritzburg.

Roebuck, 55, soon started signing his messages to Gondo "dad" as he lured the vulnerable 26-year-old in to his clutches with tales of how he looked after his "17 adopted children" and how he would help Gondo through university.

Gondo, with no knowledge of Roebuck's previous convictions for caning young men in his care, wasn't too worried when Roebuck apparently agreed to the meeting by saying "Okay my boy, bring stick in case I need to beat you!"
A two-hour meeting at a Cape Town hotel followed before the inevitable. Gondo claims Roebuck "pinned him to the bed and launched a sickening sex assault" according to the Sun newspaper in London.
Gondo, who was not paid for his revelations, said the attack finally came to a halt when his telephone rang. He claims: "I was in shock and told myself that it couldn't be happening."

Gondo then tells how Roebuck apologised on Facebook the next day. He sent this message: "Worried bout u, hope u ok". Gondo responded: "One day the long arm of the law will catch up with your evil misdeeds."
Gondo, traumatised by Roebuck's attack, then reported the incident to the police, bringing a charge of sexual assault. When the police arrived to question him, Roebuck called a friend for legal help - and when his colleague returned, Roebuck had departed through the window.

A source close to the investigation in Cape Town, quoted by The Sun, said: "Gondo needed money to go to university. He is not gay and is not a sex worker. He contacted Roebuck after a friend said he might sponsor him. But he said Roebuck pounced on him.

"It has left him traumatised. He got away but was so shocked it took days for his girlfriend to talk him into going to the police. Roebuck was about to be arrested when he jumped from the window."

This morning, Gondo reveals he is having counselling after the horror of his past week. The police say they are examining Roebuck's lap top computer to confirm the facts.

Clearly Gondo's statement to the Sun will rile Roebuck's vociferous defenders. They will say Gondo is a rent-boy, out to make money. They will claim he is an agent of Robert Mugabe, send to finish Roebuck, a critic of the Zimbabwean regime. They will insist Roebuck was thrown out of the window by the notorious South African police - but it truth that sort of thing ended with Apartheid.

Others will claim Roebuck did nothing wrong before he leapt to his death, that attempting to have a relationship with a 26-year-old man is no crime.

And of course, they'd be right. Caning is not strictly against the law. Neither is propositioning friends on Facebook. Assaulting them, attempting to control them, using you status as a famous cricket commentator to force them into a compromising situation is what I'm on about. Especially when you have convictions for similar offences against vulnerable young men in your care.

So those - like Kevin McCallum of the Johannesburg Star earlier this week - who suggested Roebuck's parting is a time for a wailing and gnashing of teeth are, to my mind, utterly wrong.

McCallum suggested both South Africa and Australia should wear black armbands for the man who captained England just once - to an embarrassing one-day defeat against The Netherlands - even after I'd send him a heads-up over Roebuck's dodgy past.

Last year, Rodney Hartman, the doyen of South African cricket writers and a leading light behind the hosting of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, was not even granted that privilege following his - natural - death. Today in the press box at The Wanderers as the second Test gets underway, many of those who commented anonymously on this blog, calling me all the names under the sun, will squirm uncomfortably at their key boards.

I suspect some even knew about Roebuck's past, his modus operandi when it came to social contacts. But they chose to stay silent and rave about his "brave, fearless, scathing" cricket writing.

For balance, you should now read - but note the author himself back-tracks on the murder allegation in his own comments section. I do not judge Peter Roebuck. I am simply attempting to present the alternate version - the grubby side - of a grim suicide.

And Roebuck, let's face it, is not fit to fire up my old Rand Daily Mail colleague Hartman's lap top. End of.


  1. "Worried about u, hope u ok." Yes, that's just the sort of thing Peter Roebuck would write. Call yourself a journalist?

  2. This is outrageously homophobic.

    Graham Thorpe, like Shane Warne, like many other cricketers have used their status an international sportsmen to prey on young, equally vulnerable women. Many in their teens. (Lets ignore that unlike Roebuck, Messrs Thorpe and Warne were also married and Fathers)

    So why are you criticising Roebuck for using his "status as an international cricket journo to lure young men". Your arguments lack erudition and perhaps reveal some ingrained bigotry.

    You take the man out of the Bucks Advertiser but you cant the...


  3. Did Thorpe or Warne ever face and get convicted of criminal charges?

    So easy to cast the homophobic tag because someone dares question.Spare me your condescending barbs.

    What a lot of you defendants of Roebuck are missing is an answer to the question as to how with a criminal record, he had a position with both the ABC and Fairfax?

  4. Once again a piece of classy journalism based almost exclusively on the work of others ... in this case that other paragon of high-class journalism, The Sun!!! It must be true and worth quoting if The Sun says so ...

  5. Just google Peter Roebuck Mr Anonymous. What's up, you bored at the cricket and want to stir things up anonymously? I've asked the press box clique to respond to this. I accept it's from The Sun, but hey, I don't have the resources to find the 26-year-old in Cape Town. But I did alert the world to Roebuck's true obit long before anybody else. And took the abuse. Apology accepted.

  6. A decent fellow like Hugh Grant has a criminal record for propositioning a young lady. He has recently sired a child with a young woman less than half his age. A vulnerable young lady of ethnic origins he has long since walked out on.

    Hugh Grant no doubt played on his "status as an international hollywood star" - worthy of more than an "international cricket journalist" - We don't bat an eye lid on behaviour like this. It will be barely be a footnote in his obituary and it wont stop us celebrating the celuloid mastery of "4 weddings and a funeral" and "Notting Hill" will it?

    Just because Roebuck has a criminal record, and by Jupiter, a spank on the bottom is hardly a major offence, it should not preclude him from pursuing his interest in other fellows above the age of consent. However distasteful Neal and ecpkoko may find the behavior.

    Neal, your article smells of homophobia. Something more suited to the rags of a Zimbabwean tabloid. Please tread carefully. At best your take on these matters are tittle-tattle at worst they are downright incompetent and malicious. Pure Fleet Street of the 1980s me thinks?

    Pink Panther

  7. Hey Dickheads..

    Nobody cares if Roebuck was having consensual sex with men. What people care about is if he was forcing himself on men, which is rape which ever way you cut it. Roebuck from all accounts loved a bit of S&M. It's a common thread from many accounts spanning many years.

    How many people suicide for crimes they do not commit?

    Typical of people like Roebuck, that moralise on the behavior of others (Ricky Ponting for starters) and yet have serious failings in their own life.

    Now he's dead. Good riddance.

  8. Very sad, why didn't he just pay a rent boy?

    This Hartmann must have been one hell of a writer if he was better than Roebuck. Roebuck was one of the best I've read and I was looking forward to his columns on the season ahead.

  9. Peter Roebuck piece in The Australian today. Sick man. Hope all those who have defended him read this. And understand the difference between being homesexual and being a predator.


    Suppose Kevin McCallum still hates you for the truth...