Start of Cronje inquiry delayed

CAPE TOWN, MAY 8. South African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour said on Monday he was still unable to announce a definite venue or starting date for hearings in the cricket match-fixing inquiry.

Judge Edwin King will head the inquiry originally scheduled to take place in Pretoria, but he has requested it be based in Cape Town.

Balfour indicated this request was still being considered. King's support team is still in the process of being assembled. Last week it was announced hearings would start on Monday.

Speaking at a press briefing following a meeting with King, Balfour said: ``Whilst we realise the sense of urgency of the inquiry, every effort will be made to ensure that the inquiry starts as soon as possible. No definite date of hearings will be given at this stage.''

King stressed he wanted to be sure preparations had been thoroughly completed before hearings started. ``We have a very clear understanding of the extent of public interest and the

necessity to get things started and finalised as quickly as possible. But if you kick off before things are thoroughly prepared, it will have exactly the opposite effect,'' he said.

``My main concern is that I want to try and create a congenial atmosphere. I'm hoping that people will come forward and open up to me and the commission and make this a cleansing and a healing exercise and get this rottenness out of the whole

game of cricket,'' he added.

The inquiry was called after axed South African captain Hansie Cronje admitted accepting money from a bookmaker for information and forecasts during a one-day series in January.