South Africans demand 'Cronje tapes'

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The Independent Online

The South African Cricket Board are demanding that Indian police hand over the tapes on which the allegations of match-fixing against Hansie Cronje and three of his team-mates have been based.

Despite transcripts of the conversation which allegedly took place between Cronje and London-based bookmaker Sanjay Chawla being widely circulated through the media, the actual tapes still remain in the possession of the New Delhi crime branch.

Cronje and the SACB have furiously defended their position, even though the Indian police have revealed they have more evidence against the quartet, which also includes Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom.

However, doubt has been cast as to whether the voice on the tapes is actually that of Cronje, and the SACB say they cannot act until it has been analysed.

In the meantime, the SACB insist no pressure will be put on any of the players to stand down from their international or domestic commitments.

Cronje, though, will definitely not be returning to India for two benefit games as scheduled later this month.

"We would not be prepared to put him through that," said Wilkinson.

"But we would never ask any of them to stand down on the basis of what we have heard so far."

Meanwhile, New Delhi Crime Branch chief Pradeep Srivastava said the police were in possession of evidence besides tapes of purported conversations between Cronje, Chawla and his associate Rajesh Kalra, who is currently in police custody.

"The continued association between Chawla and Cronje began long before their contacts in New Delhi," said Srivastava.

"We have more than just the tapes which are now sealed but what we have are not for discussion. Whatever evidence we have will be produced in court in due course."

The South African high commissioner to India, Maite Nkoane-Ramashaba, said the response from the Indian foreign ministry was "positive." South Africa have also requested a copy of the formal police charges filed against Cronje and three of his teammates.

"We have got an assurance that they will take good care of our request," Nkoane-Ramashaba said. "Our players are innocent until proven guilty."

In a statement, India's foreign ministry said police filed the case on the basis of evidence which they believe they will be able to sustain in a court of law.

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