News / 3 November 2018, 10:45am / SAMEER NAIK AND KARISHMA DIPA
Former Proteas batsman Gulam Bodi, 39, cut a lonely figure as he stood in the dock in court 13 at the Pretoria specialised Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
Sporting a red T-shirt and jeans, Bodi nervously glanced around the courtroom before proceedings began. He was a shadow of the man of his days as one of the most lethal batsman in the country, looking worn out and drained, with tears running down his face.
As proceedings started, Bodi clasped his hands together and tucked them behind his back, as magistrate Nicola Setshogoe began reading out the corruption charges he was facing.
The former Titans, Lions and Dolphins cricketer glanced down at his feet as magistrate Setshogoe informed Bodi that he potentially faced a minimum of 15 years behind bars for the crimes he committed.
Despite the lengthy prison term he could face as a first-time offender, Bodi told the court yesterday he pleaded guilty to all eight corruption charges. He is being charged under a little-known act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, which makes provision for the prosecution of corrupt behaviour within sporting events.
The act was introduced after the 2000 match-fixing saga involving the late Hansie Cronje. In January 2016 Bodi was suspended by Cricket SA (CSA) for 20 years for his part in contriving to fix matches in the 2015 edition of the Ram Slam Challenge, the country’s premier T20 competition.
He was banned from participating in, or being involved in any capacity in, any international or domestic match or any other kind of function, event or activity that was authorised, organised, sanctioned, recognised or supported in any way by CSA, the ICC, a national cricket federation or any member of a national cricket federation.
Six other players, Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe and Ethy Mbhalati were also implicated in the match-fixing scandal of 2015 and could be prisoned too.
Bodi’s legal representative, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, said his client acknowledged his wrongdoing and pleaded for the court’s mercy. Both the state and defence told the court they needed more time to gather evidence and compile reports that they required for sentencing procedures.
Magistrate Setshogoe said she had no issue with a postponement, as the court acknowledged Bodi handed himself in and had fully co-operated with authorities since his arrest in July.
If Bodi and the other six cricketers involved are imprisoned, it will represent a watershed moment for the influence of the law in corruption in sport. Although on the statute book since 2004, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act hasn’t been exercised until now.
Outside the court, Bodi expressed remorse for his actions. “It has been a very tough few years,” he told the Saturday Star. “I’ve been banned for 20 years. That’s already a long sentence.
“So for me not to be able to do something I loved my entire life has been terribly hard. “I haven’t really settled in the last three years. It’s been a constant battle. “Just recently I managed to get a job, and after three years of running around and struggling, things started slowly looking a bit better, and now this comes up.
“Its completely shattered me,” he said . Bodi said he took full responsibility for his actions, but admitted he was battling to deal with the consequences.
“They pulled me out of school when I was just 16 and put me in a cricket academy. I don’t even have an education background to fall back on, so it’s been a real battle. This is going to greatly affect my job and my family, because nobody wants to be associated with a criminal.”
Mnguni, Bodi’s legal representative, said he hoped the court would take into account the remorse his client had shown throughout the investigation.
“Before this whole thing transpired, my client was offered a job at a cricket academy and had also been commenting with SuperSport. The fact that the ban he received meant he couldn’t be involved with cricket took away any form of income he would be able to earn because in essence this man only knows cricket. He doesn’t have an academic background.
“I’m hoping that when we bring forward all these issues to the court, in addition to the fact that he’s got three very young children and he’s got an elderly unemployed mother, whom he financially supports ”
Mnguni, however, acknowledged his client’s wrongdoings.
“I feel for my client because I know he’s been through a lot. He’s made a mistake and I won’t say he’s been punished enough, but he has been punished and he suffered a lot going through this process, and he obviously feels very sorry for what he’s done and the harm he has caused to CSA and the damage that they suffered in the public for what he’s done.”
Bodi will return to court on January 28 next year for sentencing.