Former South Africa cricketer Gulam Bodi was sentenced to five years imprisonment in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Friday (October 18) for his part in South Africa’s 2015 domestic spot-fixing scandal. He is the first South African sportsman to be prosecuted under the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004, which was put in place in the wake of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal. Bodi is appealing the sentence.
Last November, the 40-year-old pleaded guilty to eight counts of corruption relating to sporting activities, and begged the court for mercy after he was told he could be jailed for as many as 15 years. His sentencing was delayed on several occasions – at one point because his lawyer withdrew from the case due to Bodi’s lack of funds.
A journeyman cricketer who had just lost his contract at the Lions, Bodi used the access provided to him as a SuperSport commentator in September 2015 to canvass former team-mates and members of the cricket-playing fraternity about the possibility of earning easy money during the upcoming RAM/SLAM tournament. He met interested parties in fast-food chicken outlets, coffee shops and, famously, a Johannesburg northern suburbs strip club.
According to court documents he had been approached by Indian “bookmakers” as early as 2014.
The inner circle of those Bodi approached included former Lions teammates Alviro Petersen, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Jean Symes, Pumi Matshikwe and Thami Tsolekile. Also implicated was Ethy Mbhalati, a fast-bowler from the Lions’ neighbouring franchise, the Titans.
After a lengthy and often painstaking investigation from Cricket South Africa’s Anti-Investigation Unit (AIU), the players were banned from cricket for terms ranging from 20 years in Bodi’s case, to a year in Petersen’s. It wasn’t clear at that stage of the case whether criminal matters against those accused would be pursued.
In the course of the investigation it also emerged that two Dolphins players, Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Craig Alexander (a former Lion who had played with Bodi) had been approached but they rebuffed Bodi’s overtures and turned whistle-blowers, with Van Jaarsveld’s statements in this regard proving to be particularly useful to the AIU.
A Chinaman bowler and hard-hitting left-handed batsman, Bodi played two ODIs and one T20I, and came within a whisker of playing for the Proteas Test team. With Nicky Boje and Paul Adams both injured, he was called up to the South African squad in the Caribbean in May 2002. The selectors were unaware that he had just injured the “pinkie” of his left hand attempting a difficult caught-and-bowled while playing in cold early-season weather for Leyland in the North Lancashire Leagues, and he never made the trip.
“It’s been a very big mistake in my life,” he said after his initial suspension as he was trying to re-build his life by, amongst other things, selling potatoes. “Cricket is something I love and know. I was a first-class cricketer for 18 years. You can’t just kiss that goodbye.”
When asked in the early stages of the investigation by this journalist why he had done it, Bodi replied famously: “Cash in hand, brother, cash in hand.”