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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Olonga remains in hiding after threats

March 20, 2003 12:12 IST

Zimbabwean World Cup cricketer Henry Olonga has said he will remain in hiding in South Africa because of threats to his safety before reaching a decision on his future.

But the fast bowler, who made a World Cup protest with team mate Andy Flower over what they perceived as human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, said he could not confirm reports that the Zimbabwean secret police were searching for him.

"I don't know what the facts are," he said in an interview with the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation.

Olonga said he had been told police officers had been invited to Zimbabwe's last World Cup game against Sri Lanka on March 15 in East London in South Africa, adding: "I think it was true.

"I must be wise about my movements, about my location, you can't rule anything out.

"I'm keeping low. It's hearsay but they are warnings and I have taken them seriously."

Olonga, 26, and Flower wore black armbands and wristbands "to mourn the death of democracy" in Zimbabwe's first two Cup matches before being asked to desist by the international cricket authorities.

The first black player to represent Zimbabwe, Olonga said he had received three "very direct, very clear" that emails containing threats or warning of threats after the protest. A couple of them were from individuals "who work with people in positions of power".

Olonga, who has been sacked by his club in Zimbabwe for his stand, said cricket remained his passion.

"If I have the opportunity to go back to a Zimbabwe that respected human rights and upheld freedom I probably would like to go back and play."

But he added he had "bad associations" with the game after recent events, adding: "Maybe it would be wise for me to take a short break."

NO REGRETS

Wicketkeeper-batsman Flower, who like Olonga has retired as an international in the past days, had moved his family to England where he will play with county side Essex before representing South Australia.

Olonga, a gifted singer who said he could look to music as an alternative career, said he had no regrets.

He said he and Flower had acted alone to protect their team mates against possible repercussions but added: "I would like to think it got them thinking about whether they agree with what's going on in Zimbabwe.

"I would like to think the team respects me for the stand I have taken. If that's where it ends, they must also consider the type of Zimbabwe they would like to live in."

Olonga's wife Becky and their three children have left for England, according to media reports.

© Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.


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