S Africa requests match-fix recording

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The Independent Online

South Africa's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday made its first formal request to India for a copy of the tapes which allegedly implicate South African cricketers in match-fixing.

"The government of India is considering the request," Harsh Bhasin, the High Commissioner for India, said. "I cannot say when we will have an answer, but the nature of our bilateral relations with South Africa means that this request will be given high priority."

Bhasin was speaking after meeting Aziz Pahad, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss allegations of match-fixing in the recent limited-overs series between India and South Africa.

South Africa's captain, Hansie Cronje, and his team-mates Nicky Boje, Herschelle Gibbs and Pieter Strydom were charged by Indian police on Friday with "cheating, fraud, and criminal conspiracy related to match-fixing and betting". Cronje and his players have denied any involvement in match-fixing.

Pahad said South Africa would co-operate fully with the Indian authorities to investigate the allegations, which have stunned the world of cricket.

"The South African government is committed to tackling this issue and to ensure that, if the allegations turn out to be true, due process of the law takes place," Pahad said. "That is why we have requested access to the tapes as well as any other information the Indian police might have that can assist us in our own investigation."

Indian police say they taped telephone conversations between Cronje and a London-based bookmaker, Sanjiv Chalwa, and are offering their conversations as evidence.

A South African foreign ministry spokesman yesterday called for independent investigators from India and South Africa to establish the truth of the allegations.

"There is no doubt at this stage as to the integrity of our players, but we are also concerned at the suggestion that in fact the hotel and telephone lines were actually bugged," Ronnie Mamoepe said. "It could lead to a bit of a diplomatic problem."

High Commissioner Bhasin denied that the telephones of the South African players' had been tapped deliberately.