Sun, 20 Oct 2019

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) intends approaching the Equality Court over allegations that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth racially abused a man at a pub in Langebaan.

"For the sake of fairness, let us take it to the Equality Court," SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen told News24 this week.

"If he is innocent, the court will find that. If he is not, the court will find that."

READ | Eben Etzebeth: Langebaan assault docket ready for NPA

Nissen said they would also continue their own investigation into the matter.

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

'We blundered'

Nissen met with the complainants in Langebaan on Thursday night and also went to the pub where the incident allegedly took place.

"I had been called by the community to come and listen to them because they felt very unhappy about how we dealt with this issue. We blundered [because] when we receive a complaint in the commission, you don't listen to respondent first, you listen to complainants, and then respondents."

READ | SAHRC first assessing evidence against Bok Eben Etzebeth before deciding on probe

On Friday morning, the SAHRC was expected to facilitate a meeting between Langebaan residents and SA Rugby Union officials at its offices in Cape Town.

Nissen said if there was a need for mediation at some point, they would do so.

Allegations surfaced last month that Etzebeth and a large group of friends had 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.

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.

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