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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Cronje killed in plane crash
Hanse Cronje, the former South African captain, has died
Cronje was among three who perished in the crash

Former South Africa cricket captain Hansie Cronje has been killed in a plane crash in the country's Western Cape province.

The plane, carrying three passengers, crashed outside the city of George, about 500 kilometres east of Cape Town.

"We have heard the news, we are still trying to recover. It's a shock." said sports ministry spokesman Graham Abrahams.

"He (Cronje) was killed. We can confirm that."

Cronje's brother, Frans, said the plane crashed in bad weather.

"It was raining and they crashed into the side of a mountain," he said.

  Hansie Cronje factfile
1987-88: Made his first-class debut for Orange Free State
1991-92: Made Test match debut for South Africa against Windies
1992-93: Hit his maiden Test century against India
1993-94: Had his first taste of Test captaincy, losing to Australia in Adelaide
1994-95: Officially appointed South Africa captain against New Zealand
1995: Joined Leicestershire as overseas player
1999: Captained South Africa to the semi-final of the World Cup in England
2002: Killed in plane crash
Relatives of the 32-year-old said the plane left Johannesburg for George early Saturday morning but was unable to land due to poor weather conditions and crashed at about 0500 GMT (0600 BST).

It appears the pilot tried to circle before landing but crashed in the rugged Outeniqua mountains.

The South African Press Association quoted doctors at the crash site as saying the two others on board the plane had also died. Their identities were not immediately known.

Officials from the United Cricket Board of South Africa spoke of their great sadness at Cronje's death.

UCB president, Percy Sonn, said: "Hansie was an excellent cricketer and a very popular and successful captain, who led his team to some great achievements.

"He gave much to cricket in this country during his career."

George lies west of Port Elizabeth
Location of the crash site
Cronje was banned for life from the game by the United Cricket Board of South Africa in 2000.

The decision was later endorsed by the game's governing body, the International Cricket Council, after he admitted to taking money to fix matches involving South Africa.

Cronje sparked the matchfixing scandal after Indian officials said they had tape recordings of him talking with an Indian bookmaker during the team's tour of the subcontinent.

Several teammates later told a government commission that Cronje conveyed to them an offer in 1996 of up to $350,000 (180,000) to lose a one-day game against India.

Cronje denied that, but admitted receiving $100,000 (68,000) from gamblers in exchange for match information and conveying other offers from gamblers to teammates to perform badly.

But his priest, Pastor Ray McCauley, reflected the other side of his character after hearing the news of his death.

"He was a person with a huge, big heart and whenever I rang him he would go with me to orphanages and schools," he said.

"Once the match-fixing broke and he was not allowed to play cricket again, he took it on the chin and never complained about it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former England captain David Gower
"This is sad, sad news"
BBC News' Clarence Mitchell
"Cronje was trying to make up for his mistake"
The BBC's Jonathan Agnew
"It's a tragic end to a tragic story"
Ali Bacher managing director of South African UCB
"I'm devastated"

Cronje dies

The aftermath

Cronje profile

SPORTS TALK

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