Mourning 'dad’: Writer gave youngsters a ‘crack at life’

2011-11-14 00:00

SIXTEEN young men in Pietermaritzburg who regarded Roebuck as their father, calling him “Dad”, mourned his death at the Scottsville home he shared with most of them for at least six months of every year.

Gathered together to pay tribute to his memory yesterday evening, they said Roebuck was the person who gave them a “crack at life”.

“He believed in equality and that everyone deserved a chance in life and his goal was to see everyone educated,” said one of his protégés, Diamond Chadya.

They said they were only some of the many young people he befriended internationally and helped to support financially and guide through life.

The group said they have no knowledge about a report that Roebuck was being investigated for an alleged sexual assault. They still have to come to terms with his death, let alone these issues that they are gleaning from the media.

The shattering news of Roebuck’s death came at 3 am when one of the group, Prosper Tsvanhu, received a call from a “family member” in Cape Town. However, it was a while before details of how he had died filtered through to them on news channels. “His death hasn’t sunk in yet … the fact that he will no longer be a part of us.”

They said Roebuck taught them about the value of “giving”. “He taught us that when we die we cannot take our cars or millions with us to the coffin.”

Ant Lovell, a cricketing associate and friend of Roebuck, said he was “shattered” at the news of his death. “I saw him the day before he left for Cape Town — he seemed in quite good spirits.”

He said Roebuck had coached at Grey College, Hilton College and St Charles College.

He paid tribute to Roebuck’s Learning for a Better World (LBW) initiative, which raised money to assist young men, mainly Zimbabweans, by putting them through university and technical colleges. Roebuck spent half the year in Australia where he raised funds for LBW.

“He would arrive back in April and call and say, ‘I’m back, let’s have a chat’. He was a doer who was deeply concerned about helping people.” Lovell described him as “very bright” and as a “fearless, perceptive and exceptional writer”, but said he was a very reserved person.

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