Students in limbo amid search for Roebuck will

LIZ HANNAN
Last updated 09:35 17/11/2011
Peter Roebuck with students
peterroebuck.com

UNCERTAIN LEGACY: Peter Roebuck with students.

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Four days after the death of journalist Peter Roebuck, no will has been found, throwing into doubt the future of dozens of students he provides for financially in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

As family in England and associates in Australia and South Africa sought to unravel his financial affairs, a British newspaper reported a source claimed Roebuck molested a 26-year-old Zimbawean he met on Facebook.

Roebuck, 55, had established a 10-bedroom home called Sunrise in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, for young men to live while attaining a university education.

Last night, Sunrise house leader Tatenda Dennis Chadya, said: "We are running around, seeing if Peter had provisions for this incident. At the moment we have found nothing solid yet."

The household drew funds from a bank account set up by Roebuck, whose cricket duties took him away for half the year.

Nic Kock, a Cape Town lecturer with whom Roebuck spent his last afternoon watching cricket, has advised the housemates to be frugal while a will is sought.

"We all want to see the house being continued, though I don't think anyone will be able to continue at the level he was operating it," Mr Chadya said.

"It is not something new for him not to be here in this house but to know that he is nowhere in this world is different."

Roebuck was a bachelor with five siblings. His elderly mother lives in England. If he died intestate it is expected she would inherit his estate, which includes two houses in Bondi.

His family confirmed last night no will had yet been found.

Roebuck died at the weekend after falling from his room at the Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands. Two policemen had come to his room to reveal they planned to press charges following an accusation of sexual assault by a 26-year-old Zimbabwean man. His accuser has not identified himself publicly.

In 2001, Roebuck received a suspended jail sentence after being convicted of common assault in an English court for caning three 19-year-old South African cricketers on the buttocks after they broke "house rules" while staying with him.

Britain's The Sun newspaper reported last week's complainant went to meet Roebuck after he made an online offer to help him through university.

The Sun claimed a source said: "The young man is not gay and is not a sex worker. He contacted Roebuck after a friend said he might sponsor him [to university]. But he said Roebuck pounced on him. It has left him traumatised. He got away but was so shocked it took days for his girlfriend to talk him into going to the police. Roebuck was about to be arrested when he jumped."

Roebuck would have been writing for Fairfax Media and commentating for ABC Radio when the second Test starts in Johannesburg today.

His trademark straw hat was retrieved from his personal effects by the Australian media corps and will be passed around the press box to raise funds for the Pietermaritzburg students.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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