Test cricketer raped woman in stadium

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The Independent Online
A CRICKETER in South Africa's World Cup squad was found guilty yesterday of rape.

Makhaya Ntini was convicted of raping a 22-year-old neighbour in the lavatory of a cricket ground in East London after offering her a lift home on 2 December. The 21-year-old international plays in East London, on the east coast, for the Border provincial cricket side.

He has been dropped from the line-up for next month's World Cup tournament in England. The only black African to be selected for the national squad, Ntini played in Australia and England last year.

The United Cricket Board (UCB) managing director, Ali Bacher, said in a statement in Johannesburg that the board was disappointed by Ntini's conviction. "We believe rape is a heinous crime and our previous and current comments on this matter must not be construed in any other light," Mr Bacher said. "We understand there are definite grounds for appeal... The UCB will continue to support Makhaya until the legal process has been completed. Sadly Makhaya Ntini will be withdrawn from the South African squad for the World Cup."

Mr Bacher said the Western province cricketer, Alan Dawson, would replace Ntini. Before the judgment the UCB had said the rape charge against Ntini did not affect his eligibility for the national squad.

Ntini, a pace-bowler, sobbed as the verdict was handed down in court.

He was discovered as a raw 15-year-old in Mdingi, a black township near King William's Town near East London.

Raymond Booi, the Border Cricket Board official who first spotted Ntini, said he was devastated. "My heart is broken because he was a model for South African youth," Mr Booi said. "He is a loyal, non-aggressive decent person."

The UCB has been subject to government criticism that the national team is too "white".

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