South African businessman returns Kings XI’s money

Johannesburg, April 16 (Inditop) Kings XI Punjab might be thanking their stars after a South African businessman returned them some 45,000 rands that the Indian Premier League (IPL) team had forgotten in a hotel room in Port Elizabeth.

Local daily The Times reported that Stephen Blewett, the head of a leading mobile company, found 450,000 rands in crisp new 100 rand notes in the room safe of the Garden Court Kings Beach Hotel, where both Kings Punjab XI and the Australian cricket team had stayed last week.

The previous occupant of the room had been the Australian team manager. But the money turned out to be of Kings XI Punjab.

Blewett booked into the hotel Tuesday evening and discovered the money after a hotel technician assisted him to open the safe, in which he wanted to store his laptop.

“It is not every day that you find that much money in a hotel room. You never know whose it might be,” Blewett was quoted as saying by the daily.

The money was put into a laundry bag and stored at a reception safe.

The comedy of errors became clearer as it emerged that Kings XI Punjab management had decided to keep the money in the safe of an unoccupied room that was used for team meetings.

The Kings XI Punjab squad booked into the hotel April 6, ahead of a training camp and a friendly match Tuesday against the Eastern Cape’s Chevrolet Warriors. They checked out Wednesday, bound for Cape Town for their first IPL match against the Delhi Daredevils Sunday.

Kings XI liaison officer Arvinder Singh told The Times that the cash was for food, drinks and daily allowances for the 34-member squad for two weeks.

“It was a substantial amount and we would have felt if it was gone. It is not common for us to carry that amount of money, but we have a lot of costs and the money was not yet distributed to the players,” Arvinder said.

Then, last Friday, the same room was occupied by Australian team manager Stephen Bernard ahead of his team’s one-day international against South Africa.

Three hours after Bernard had checked in, hotel staff and two other men requested permission to remove a parcel from his room safe, without Bernard knowing the contents. Australian team spokesman Philip Pope said the safe then remained open and empty until Bernard checked out a few days later.

When Blewett checked into the room Tuesday morning, the money was mysteriously back in the safe.

Blewett’s honesty was rewarded with a bottle of expensive whiskey and a signed cricket bat for his home bar.

“The hotel gave me a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey as a gift and a signed cricket bat for my home bar. I was more concerned about being blamed if something happened to the money. I honestly did not think (keeping the cash) was an option,” he said.