The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The Cronjes reserve comment
- Murder theory - Dr Ali Bacher not convinced by speculative reports in the UK Media

Calcutta: The late Hansie Cronje’s family has, for now, decided against reacting to speculation that the (disgraced) former South African cricket captain’s death in an air crash was sabotage-triggered.

According to reports in the UK Media, the June 1, 2002 crash on the Outeniqua Mountain (near George) wasn’t an accident. In fact, the reports quoted an investigator as saying: “A lot of people wanted Cronje dead… They feared he would one day tell the full truth and that many more would be implicated (in the match-fixing scandal)…”

It’s an observation that can’t be ignored. Only, the Cronjes are being cautious.

“At this moment, neither my wife (San Marie) nor I have any comment. Thank-you for your call, but please respect our decision,” was father Ewie’s response when The Telegraph contacted him at his Bloemfontein residence on Monday morning.

However, Ewie — whose tone suggested he had aged appreciably in 14 months — added: “In any case, the (Civil Aviation Authority) inquiry is on… Of course, I don’t know why it hasn’t been concluded.”

[Intriguingly, lead investigator Dr Andre de Kock has declared it’s “too early” to speculate on the reasons for the crash. He himself needs an additional three months to “collect” details for making an “assessment.”

Moreover, the “last instrumentation component” of the Hawker Siddeley 748 twin-engined aircraft would only be sent to the US (for “tests”) late on Monday. It’s a mystery why the Authority kept waiting all this while.

Hansie’s elder brother Frans, who was the family’s public face when tragedy struck, said pretty much the same thing. The one difference being he laughed cynically when his attention was drawn to the murder-theory reports.

“Today, there’s nothing to say… But, yes, there could be a reaction in time to come,” Frans (a video producer with a religious bent of mind) maintained, when reached for an exclusive comment on his cellphone.

Asked if the family would call for the Authority’s report to be made public, just in case there was a move to keep it secret, he replied: “First, let the investigation get over… Let the inquiry be complete…”

Apparently, till the latest bit of speculation, the Cronjes had reconciled to Hansie’s death wholly being an act of God. Now, the pain is bound to return. Numerous questions too.

Indeed, as a confidant of the Cronjes revealed: “I know that many in the family had got around to believing that the time allotted by God for Hansie was over… That, on June 1 last year, he simply had to go away from all of us… After the sabotage and murder theory, though, the family may question its own beliefs…”

While the family (as of now) is maintaining a “no comments” stance, former United Cricket Board supremo Dr Ali Bacher isn’t convinced by the UK Media reports.

“I’m not privy to the investigation but, from what I understand, conditions weren’t at all conducive for flying… The visibility, it seems, was almost zero that morning,” Dr Bacher said, when contacted in Johannesburg.

With that Hawker Siddeley crash leaving no survivors (both pilots were also killed) and the inquiry tardy, it’s debatable whether the truth will ever be out.

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