Two men who alleged they were pistol-whipped along with two others who were allegedly racially abused by Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth are seeking compensation totalling more than R1 million.
This according to Buang Jones of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which is representing the complainants in their Equality Court case.
On Friday, the independent Chapter 9 institution submitted its hate speech papers against the Springbok at the court sitting in Hopefield on the West Coast.
Jones said the case was separate from the criminal investigation into what had transpired in the early hours of August 25, when the complainants allege the Bok assaulted them and called them h*tn*tte.
The Langebaan Four, as they call themselves, were seeking compensation of more than R1m; an order directing Etzebeth to apologise to the coloured community and all South Africans; an order directing him to undergo anger management and race sensitivity training as well as an order directing him to do community service in Langebaan, Jones said.
On Friday, he told News24 an investigation had found there was a prima facie case against Etzebeth. The four also intend taking civil action against the rugby star.
“But there are sectors of our society who are over-emphasising the rights of Etzebeth over those of the victims who were assaulted and racially abused,” he said.
According to the complainants’ lawyer, Nigel Samuels, a number of statements detailing what transpired that morning had been obtained. The material aspects in all were identical, he added.
The complainants claim they had been walking home from a local pub called the 5 o’Clock Sports Bar. On their way, they passed local hangout Die Watergat as Etzebeth and his friends were leaving.
Samuels said the rugby player asked the group: “Wat soek julle h*tn*tte so laat op straat?” (“What are you h*tn*ts doing out so late”)
A verbal exchange between the two groups ensued, and Etzebeth and his party apparently got into their vehicles to leave.
A brick or similar object was then thrown at his white Mustang, and Etzebeth and his friends got out of their cars.
According to Samuels, the group saw that Etzebeth had a firearm and fled.
“They caught Enver Wilsnach, who had been walking two women home, and hit him with the gun. Shiyaad Smith tried to intervene and he too was assaulted.”
Samuels said Etzebeth was a legal gun owner. His firearm had been sent for DNA testing to determine if it had been used in the incident.
Prior to the alleged brawl outside Die Watergat, a scuffle had also taken place inside the establishment.
Sport24 reported that Etzebeth and around 12 to 15 people had arrived there at about 23.00pm, according to pub owner Riaan Reeders.
At around midnight, a man was involved in an altercation in the upstairs section of the bar with members of Etzebeth’s party. Reeders said he had examined the CCTV footage and Etzebeth had not been involved in the scuffle.
Etzebeth and his friends then left the pub at around 02.00am on Sunday.
Soon after the allegations came to light, the Springbok responded via his Facebook page.
He said: “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.”
The SAHRC confirmed meeting with Etzebeth who was included in South Africa’s 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“The purpose of the meeting was to advise the player of the role the SAHRC takes in relation to a complaint received, as well as the subsequent media reports relating to it, and to establish a commitment of co-operation between the two parties,” it said in a statement at the time.
“Both parties expressed their satisfaction with the envisaged process going forward, and concluded by describing the meeting as constructive.
“The player denied any wrongdoing to the SAHRC and has pledged his full co-operation in the matter.”
Etzebeth’s lawyer, Andre Calitz, maintained his client’s innocence, saying he was not involved in any of the alleged incidents.