Peter Roebuck’s Suicide Dive: Sun Buries Neil Manthorp’s Flawed Genius With Nudge And Wink
PETER Roebuck committed suicide. The Somerset cricketer who became a journalist “dived six floors to his death from a South African hotel room after he was questioned by police over an alleged sexual assault against a young man he met on Facebook“.
So says the Times, using the word “dived” to add drama to a story that need no embellishment.
The man who says he went to room 623 of the Southern Sun Newlands Hotel is aged 26. He is Zimbabwean.
South African newspaper, The New Age, quoted a source as saying that Mr Roebuck allegedly tried to seduce the Facebook friend and to have sex with him against his will. Police say they confronted Mr Roebuck at about 9pm on Saturday with the intention of making an arrest.
The praise for Roebuck has ben fluid. But this is an open investigation. In 2001, Roebuck was given a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to common assault against three 19-year-old South African men whom he had put up in his Somerset home while coaching them. Roebuck had caned them for what he claimed was slackness.
Judge Graham Hume Jones told Roebuck at his trial that his action had been “inappropriate”. He said: “It seems so unusual that it must have been done to satisfy some need in you. You used your position to abuse these boys and humiliate them.”
Roebuck was sentenced to four months in jail for each count, with the sentences suspended for two years, at Taunton Crown Court.
But he could write…
It was just after 9 o’clock on Saturday night when Roebuck, 55, rang [ABC commentator Jim] Maxwell – who was also staying on the sixth floor of the Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands – to ask him to hurry to his room.
On arrival, Maxwell found two policemen and Roebuck stunned by news that a 26-year-old Zimbabwean man had accused him of sexual assault.
Peter Lalor adds:
Maxwell, a friend of Roebuck for more than 30 years, found him in a distressed state asking if he could contact his student friends and a lawyer.
The police asked Maxwell to leave the room. “I asked the detective if he could give me his phone number so I could speak with him later and he followed me into the hall,” Maxwell told The Australian last night. “That left him (Roebuck) with just one person and I think that is when he jumped.”
Maxwell went down the corridor to fellow ABC commentator Drew Morphett’s room and they heard the detective speaking on the phone saying “there is a complication” and “jumped out the window, I think he is dead”.
The Sun loads the words against Roebuck:
Bachelor Roebuck, 55, arranged to meet the handsome 26-year-old from a poor Zimbabwean family after making an online offer to help him through university.
But the unidentified victim called cops, claiming he was cornered and sexually assaulted at a hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.
Saturday’s assault was said to be so serious he requested counselling. A source close to the case said: “The young man is not gay and is not a sex worker. He needs money to go to university. 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.”
The New Age reports:
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.
SHOCK. Bewilderment. Grief. These were just some of the emotions palpable in the sprawling student digs Peter Roebuck had set up for students who said he was like a dad to them and who had given them hope when, in most cases, there had been none. The house close to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus in the suburb of Scottsville was where Roebuck spent six months of each year. ”When he was here, we would eat meals together. He would spend time with us together and he would regularly speak to us separately,” said Dennis Chadya, 24. ‘Peter touched lives on a grand magnitude,” said Prosper Tsvanhu, on a cricketing scholarship at the university – thanks to Roebuck.
”I was playing in Zimbabwe but nobody wanted to play with us. My coach recommended me to Peter. He managed to organise the cricketing scholarship for me at the university and has been helping me with food and accommodation. Peter gave in many ways. He was a mentor. A father figure. He seemed to have this moral compass and moral obligation to assist others. He was concerned about everyone’s well-being. He was terribly concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe and felt people must not just complain. They should do something. That is what he was doing. He touched so many lives.”
Neil Manthorp knew Roebuck (do read it all):
I first met him when he was still playing first-class cricket and our paths crossed in press boxes and commentary boxes on a regular basis for the next 23 years.
For a long time, like many of his colleagues both on and off the field, I was intimidated by his eccentricities. We naturally fear or avoid what we don’t understand – human instinct. But I didn’t avoid conversation, far from it. I just avoided debate on the basis that I didn’t stand a chance and preferred to defer to his vastly superior knowledge.
Then, almost a decade after we first met, he was travelling around South Africa during Australia’s 1997 tour of South Africa looking more and more dishevelled. Nobody ever saw him at the ‘usual’ hotels and he brushed off my queries about his accommodation with a casual “oh, just with friends.”
We had just moved into a house we really could not afford and furniture was not only second hand but sparse. Still, I invited him to stay and he gladly accepted. He wore tracksuit pants the first evening which must have been at least 20 years old and a sleeveless Somerset sweater that was filthy, and smelly. My wife asked, understandably, when it had last been washed. He looked down at his chest and then up to her before replying, nonplussed: “But, it’s a cricket sweater…?” Evidently they were not intended to be washed. That night she put the entire contents of his duffle bag in the washing machine…
We had a new puppy at the time and we were battling to train it. The only decent piece of furniture we had was a beige sofa. The puppy fell in love with it and, if it wasn’t trying to jump on it, it was chewing the legs off it. He sat down on it and the puppy jumped on him. I removed the dog and asked our guest not to encourage it. This request was infinitely more difficult to comprehend than washing a dirty sweater – and impossible to comply with. So the dog stayed. It was a bit like having two dogs, actually. One was only a little bit better house-trained than the other.
One was a stubborn animal with a sense of mischief which seemed to revel in the attention it got from doing something naughty, and the other was a six-month old Ridgeback puppy.
Such are the facts…