Enver Wilsnach, one of two people who alleged they were assaulted and racially abused by Springbok Eben Etzebeth, told News24 on Thursday he is disappointed in the rugby star.
“I was a fan of his,” Wilsnach said ahead of a community meeting in Langebaan hosted by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
“I am hurt by what happened, and shocked that he was still sent to the World Cup [in Japan].”
Wilsnach, who locals call a rugby legend who played for the Langebaan Rugby Club, said he had been advised by his lawyers not to speak about the incident as it could jeopardise his case.
The SAHRC said it would take the case against Etzebeth to the Equality Court on Friday. This as the police are investigating a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, crimen injuria and the pointing of a firearm against him.
SA Rugby, meanwhile, has also launched an internal investigation into the allegations.
Wilsnach, 42, and Shiyaad Smith, 21, claimed Etzebeth assaulted them by striking them in the face with a firearm.
Smith told News24 Etzebeth was, to him, “the face of South African rugby”.
“We’re supposed to look up to him. He plays for the Bokke. [What happened] changed the way I see him,” he said.
According to the pair’s lawyer, Nigel Samuels, Etzebeth is a legal gun owner, adding his firearm had been sent for DNA testing to determine if it had been used in the incident.
It is alleged Etzebeth and a large group of friends reportedly used a racially loaded word against someone in a pub in Langebaan after ostensibly being harassed by a group of people at a nearby table who taunted him, saying he was a shitty rugby player.
A scuffle allegedly broke out between the two groups.
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.”
Sammy Claassen of the Khoisan Defiance Campaign said they wanted justice for those involved as well as the “banning of the h*tn*t word, as it has the same discriminatory meaning as the K-word used against black Africans”.
“It has the same meaning and deep level of discrimination. It should be banned in its strongest terms by the courts and be regarded as hate speech.”
He charged the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was “dragging its feet with the criminal case”, saying the case was in the public interest.
“The public has a right to know the truth. Here, we have victims who were severely assaulted, traumatised and denied sufficient justice and a trial to tell their story before a court of law. The victims have a right to justice and the protection of the law. The NPA must act without fear or favour.”
Claassen said when white people were involved in crime, they received special treatment.
This while the victims were apparently targeted by those who call them liars, drunkards and useless people who “must be moered”, he added
Claassen told locals in the community hall that the outrage was not about distracting from the World Cup, saying: “This case is about the serious racism in Langebaan.”
At the meeting, SAHRC spokesperson Buang Jones said the commission did not care about the offender’s prominence or standing in society, “whether you are Eben Etzebeth, Adam Catzavelos or Angelo Agrizzi”.
Etzebeth was a criminal suspect who was representing South Africa at the World Cup, added Jones who also criticised SA Rugby for selecting him for the spectacle in light of the serious allegations.
“We don’t care whether you are a Springbok player. We don’t care about your colour. We have to act. We look at the facts, and the facts from the statements obtained suggest there is a case to answer to.”
Jones said the SAHRC had also obtained and reviewed video footage, claiming this was not the first time Etzebeth had engaged in such conduct.
“He always got away with it. But this time around, it stops here,” he added to thunderous applause.
When the floor was opened for comments, one man criticised people for finding Etzebeth guilty before he has had his day in court, while another said SA Rugby had failed coloured people by sending Etzebeth to the World Cup before the allegations were tested in a court of law.