News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
20 Sep 2019
7:02 pm

Bok Eben Etzebeth must return to SA to be investigated, community leader tells SARU

News24 Wire

Allegations surfaced last month that he and a large group of friends reportedly used a racially loaded word against someone in a pub.

Eben Etzebeth during the South African national rugby team arrival press conference at Intercontinental Hotel, OR Tambo Airport on August 12, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

A community leader representing complainants in a matter about an alleged racist incident at a pub in Langebaan has told SA Rugby Union (SARU) officials that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth must return home to be internally investigated for any role he may have played.

Etzebeth is at the Rugby World Cup in Japan with the rest of the team.

“The way SARU has handled the matter was painful, very painful because it was ice cold. They were non-responsive and they were not willing. There was no political will to take serious internal action,” West Coast community leader Sammy Classen told SARU officials at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) offices in Cape Town on Friday.

News24 reported earlier on Friday that the SAHRC indicated its intentions to approach the Equality Court over the allegations.

While the SAHRC and police conducted their own investigations, SARU should also invite the alleged victims to give statements, said Classen.

“They must even call Eben Etzebeth and give him a fair chance to defend himself and tell his side of the story,” he said.

“This process will give peace to black South Africans that SA Rugby is serious about racism.”

SARU was given until next Friday to respond.

When approached for comment at the meeting, SARU’s head of legal and compliance Vanessa Doble and senior manager for government and stakeholder relations, Khaya Mayedwa, said they were not mandated to comment.

In their presence, SAHRC senior legal officer Tammy Carter said: “The colleagues from SARU have heard the concerns which Classen raised… and have undertaken that they will go back to SARU, convey these and give an outcome by the end of next week.”

SARU spokesperson Andy Colquhoun, who is in Japan, indicated that they would only be in a position to comment once they had time to receive a full report from their representatives.

Etzebeth is in Japan as part of South Africa’s 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks take on New Zealand at Yokohama International Stadium on Saturday.

Allegations surfaced last month that he and a large group of friends reportedly used a racially loaded word against someone in a pub.

The group was also accused of physical assault.

Etzebeth responded to the allegations on his Facebook page by saying: “It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media. Multiple witnesses can corroborate that.

“I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love,” he said.

At the end of last month, Etzebeth and his legal team met with the SAHRC and agreed to co-operate with their procedures.

Classen said that the victims were in pain and wanted justice.

“The one man was re-admitted to hospital yesterday and is undergoing an emergency operation because the injuries are much more serious than was initially thought,” he said.

He charged that Etzebeth did not deserve to wear his Springbok jersey with the face of the late Chester Williams on it, while facing these allegations.

News24 understands that the National Prosecuting Authority referred the docket back to the investigating officer for further investigation.

Western Cape police were asked to confirm the charges and claims that Etzebeth’s firearm had been confiscated for DNA tests.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut replied that police were still investigating the circumstances surrounding a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, crimen injuria and pointing of a firearm relating to an incident around 02.30am on August 25.

“No one has been arrested or charged and the individual implicated in the matter cannot be named at this stage.”

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.