Adam Shand, in The Weekend Australian, 17-18 March 2012
MEMBERS of the African “family” of late cricket writer Peter Roebuck believe they are entitled to a share of the house they lived in with their former mentor in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, until his suicide last November. Former student Psychology Maziwisa said he believed the estate feared Roebuck’s African family might seek compensation. “It appears there is a behind-the-scenes attempt to wind up Peter’s estate and to dispose of the proceeds as quickly as possible in order to circumvent a possible class action,” he told The Weekend Australian. “Peter would actually have wanted nothing more than for his estate, part of it anyhow, to go towards looking after all those who were still in his care at the time of his unfortunate death.”
Roebuck committed suicide in Cape Town on November 12 last year after police told him he would be charged with the sexual assault of a 26-year-old Zimbabwean student. In the wake of his death, a number of the men under Roebuck’s care claimed they suffered beatings and sexual abuse at the hands of their benefactor.
Darshak Mehta, chairman of the LBW (Learning for a Better World) Trust of which Roebuck was a founding director, said he had been told there was talk of legal action among the students. It has been reported that Roebuck had offered to sell the house, known as Sunrise, early last year and make a payment of 80,000 rand ($9500) to each of the 16 students or transfer ownership of the property to them outright. This had followed demands by the men that Roebuck cease a regime of inappropriate behaviour. The students had voted to accept the payment but later back-tracked. Roebuck had promised to write a will formalising the bequest of Sunrise to his “sons”, according to another Zimbabwean student, Petros Tani.
Roebuck reportedly died without leaving a will and so the proceeds of his estate would revert to his mother in England. It is understood that the residents were told earlier this year that Roebuck’s friend Nick Kock, a South African charity worker, had planned to close the house by the end of July on behalf of the Roebuck family. New owners would be coming in by December, the students were told in January. Mr Kock did not return telephone calls last night.