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How the Hansie Cronje scandal unfolded

Published Apr 12, 2000


Five days South Africa would like to forget:

Friday, April 7

Delhi police charge Hansie Cronje with accepting money to influence the outcome of the one-day cricket matches played between South Africa and India in March.

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The police release transcripts of what they say is a conversation between Cronje and an Indian businessman, alleged to be bookmaker Sanjay Chawla, in which the names of Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom are also mentioned. Similar charges are levelled against Chawla, who is said to be in London, and Delhi businessman Rajesh Kalra, who is arrested.

In Johannesburg, United Cricket Board managing director Ali Bacher says he is convinced there is no substance to the reports from India.

"Cronje is known for his unquestionable integrity and honesty," says Bacher, adding that the captain had told him the allegations were "absolute rubbish".

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Cronje says: "The allegations are completely without substance - It has been an honour to play for South Africa and I would never do anything to let my country down.

Saturday, April 8

The South African government says it will contact the Indian government to convey its concerns about the allegations.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad assures Bacher the government will seek an explanation for reports that South African players' telephones were tapped on the tour to India. The government also says it will seek an explanation about the process by which the allegations against the four players were made public.

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The UCB says it is dismayed that the integrity of South African cricket and its players has been questioned. "We remain adamant that our players have never been party to match-fixing," says Bacher.

South African coach Graham Ford says Indian police have been "over-hasty", adding: "The whole story is a storm in a teacup. I am sure that when further details are available, the innocence of Hansie and the others will be fully proved."

Former South African captain Kepler Wessels doubts the allegations, but calls for an independent inquiry.

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"This thing is rife in cricket and the biggest mistake we could make would be to try and sweep it under the carpet without an investigation."

Former South African coach Bob Woolmer says: "These allegations are absolute garbage."

The head of the Rhema Church, Ray McCauley, says: "Because I know Hansie as a person of integrity, I cannot believe he would be party to any such allegation."

Arrested Indian businessman Kalra admits to offering the players $400 000 to $500 000 (R2,6-million to R3,3-million) to fix the matches, according to an interview in a weekly magazine.

Delhi police name another person allegedly involved in match-fixing.

Ex-actor Krishan Kumar is briefly interrogated, then admitted to hospital in Bombay complaining of angina.

Sunday, April 9

Cronje tells a Durban news conference: "I deny ever receiving any sum of money during the one-day series in India. I want to also make it absolutely clear that I have never spoken to any member of the team about throwing a game."

He says he believes match-fixing has no place in sport and speaks about the "hurt" the allegations have caused him. "The only way to clear my name is to speak to the players and to check my bank accounts."

Gibbs and Boje back Cronje and deny receiving any offers to fix matches.

Bacher says the government and the UCB view the allegations "in a most serious light. The issues at stake are the lack of protocol used on this most serious issue and the bugging of phones used by the South African team while in India."

UCB president Percy Sonn expresses anger at the "spurious" allegations and says Cronje has no case to answer unless Indian police release the tape recordings.

The Indian high commissioner is summoned to Pretoria to explain why the players' phones and rooms were bugged.

Mr Pahad tells a Johannesburg newspaper that South Africa's High Commissioner to India had listened to excerpts from the tapes and was convinced the accents were not South African.

The Indian government turns down the High Commissioner's request for a copy of the tapes. But Mr Pahad insists that the tapes must be handed over since "we want to carry out our own inquiry. If there is any substance to the allegations - and I doubt very much that the individuals concerned are capable of something like that - we will take the necessary steps."

Delhi police send investigators to Bombay, Bangalore and Kochi to collect information based on the disclosures made by Kalra, and seek Interpol's help in finding Chawla.

Monday, April 10

Indian police say they have new evidence against Cronje. Delhi crime branch chief Pradeep Srivastava says he has proof that Cronje was in contact with Chawla during the five one-day internationals played in India between March 9 and 19.

Tuesday, April 11

The UCB says Cronje has withdrawn from the three-match one-day series against Australia starting today, then sacks him.

Bacher says he and Sonn received a call from Cronje to say he had been dishonest with the board.

Cronje acknowledges receiving $10 000-$15 000 (R66 000 to R100 000), but denies match-fixing.

After a UCB news conference, a press release from the office of Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour quotes Cronje as saying he never received any money.

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