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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Thousands mourn Cronje
Ewie Cronje and son Frans carry the coffin
Cronje's father and brother act as pallbearers
Leading figures in South African cricket joined thousands of mourners in Bloemfontein for the funeral of Hansie Cronje.

The 32-year-old former captain of the national team died in a plane crash in mountains near the city of George on Saturday.

"All our hearts are aching," Pastor Dave Hooper told the mourners at a church in Grey College, Cronje's former school. "The world has lost a great cricketing hero."


I hope people will remember him for all the positive things
Jacques Kallis
More than 1,000 people filled the church and a large screen television and rows of seats were set up outside to accommodate an even larger number.

The national team, clad in blazers, stood behind captain Shaun Pollock as he spoke at the service.

Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour and former United Cricket Board head Dr Ali Bacher were there, as well as many of South Africa's rugby team.

Changing attitudes

Cronje played 68 Tests and 188 one-day internationals during his career.

But he was banned from the game for life in 2000 after admitting that he accepted money from bookmakers in return for trying to fix matches.

Cronje's widow Bertha
Bertha Cronje said her husband was honourable
Despite that, his death sparked tributes from politicians, players, coaches and cricket fans.

Cronje, a deeply religious person, dealt with the controversy by turning to his faith, Hooper said.

"It was almost inhuman the way he rose above the pain of the last few years," the pastor went on.

"Hansie should be remembered as the good natured spirit that he was," Pollock told mourners.

The all-rounder spoke of an inspiring leader and an endearing prankster, who put petroleum jelly on door handles and once gave a teammate sleeping pills instead of malaria tablets.

"H, we'll miss you," he said, choking back tears.

Tributes

Former team-mate Jacques Kallis told reporters that Cronje was a very special person who played a major role in his life.

"I hope people will remember him for all the positive things," he said.

Cronje's widow, Bertha, said the national outpouring of support helped comfort her and convinced her that the nation still loved their fallen hero.

"Even though Hansie made a mistake, he was still the same Hansie, a kind and loving husband ... an honourable man," she said. "It was an honour to be married to him."

The service was screened live on South African television.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) said it had been "inundated" with letters and e-mails of support for Cronje's family.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Barnaby Phillips
"In death his mistakes are forgotten"

Cronje dies

The aftermath

Cronje profile

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