Roebuck's death investigation could last for months, says SA police

Colonel Vishnu Naidoo of the South African Police Services refused to comment on reports that Peter Roebuck plunged to his death after jumping out of a window with police still in the room AFP

Melbourne: Nov 14, 2011

It will take at least a month before the circumstances of renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck’s suicide in South Africa are revealed with a Police Services official there saying that an inquest has been launched into his death.

Colonel Vishnu Naidoo of the South African Police Services has revealed it will take four to six weeks for the inquest to be completed.

The 55-year-old Roebuck plunged to death from his sixth-floor room in a Cape Town hotel after being reportedly questioned over sexual assault charges on Saturday night.

Roebuck’s ABC radio colleague Jim Maxwell, considered one of his closest confidants, is to give a statement to Cape Town detectives but the South African police ruled out foul play in the death.

The police have taken personal items from Roebuck’s hotel room including a laptop. Naidoo said the exact chain of events leading to the death can be established only after the inquest.

“An inquest can take a long time, it can be anything from six months to two or three years, but what is critical here is to get the autopsy reports, or what we call the post-mortem report,” Naidoo told The Daily Telegraph.

“We will be looking at that first and that can take four to six weeks, sometimes up to eight weeks. When we get that report, we can determine officially what his cause of death was.

“There is no crime suspected as far as Mr Roebuck’s death is concerned,” he added.

Naidoo said medical reports of Roebuck are awaited.

“If someone dies of unnatural causes and there isn’t suspicion of a crime being committed, then we conduct an inquest.

“In this time, we will undertake the normal investigation. We will take statements, we will await medical reports and that will form part of our investigation,” Naidoo said.

The newspaper reported that “Roebuck plunged to his death after jumping out of a window with police still in the room.”

When asked about this, Naidoo refused comment.

“I have never confirmed or denied anything about that.

All I have said is that Mr Roebuck is dead and that we have opened an inquest docket and I have also confirmed there is no evidence of foul play.”

Asked if police had spoken to Roebuck earlier in the day, Naidoo said: “I am not at liberty to disclose that information.”

On whether the police were investigating claims of sexual assault, Naidoo said: “I am not at liberty to disclose that as well. That is all, I have nothing else to say on this matter.”

Meanwhile, ABC radio commentator Maxwell said there was nothing in Roebuck’s behaviour that suggested that he might be disturbed and contemplating the extreme step.

“Things happen. As far as I could see at the Test, there wasn’t a problem,” he said.

“He’s one of the outstanding writers on the game of cricket. He was a person who had a great sense of humanity and caring. That was Peter, there were a lot of other things about him but we’ve lost a wonderful friend and supporter,” he added.

Roebuck, a former Somerset captain, was in 2001, given a suspended jail sentence after admitting caning three young cricketers he had offered to coach. (PTI)

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