The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has denied claims that it charged Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth in the Equality Court to appease the Langebaan community, a report says.
This after Sunday newspaper Rapport reported this weekend that the commission’s CEO had warned it did not have enough evidence that the Springbok lock had used racist language.
The Commission is representing the so-called Langebaan Four in an Equality Court case against Etzebeth whom it said allegedly used a racial slur against them during an incident outside a pub in the West Coast town on August 25.
The four are looking for compensation of more than R1m and want Etzebeth to apologise, to undergo anger management and racial sensitivity training, and to do community service, News24 previously reported.
A transcript of a meeting between SAHRC commissioners suggested they were so concerned with what the community of Langebaan would say if they did not charge Etzebeth that they decided to charge him before they had finished their investigation, Rapport reported.
This is contained in internal documents that the SAHRC handed over to Etzebeth’s legal team.
In October, Etzebeth launched an application asking the Gauteng High Court to review the SAHRC’s decision to take the case to the Equality Court.
Rapport also reported the documents provided to him do not contain a sworn affidavit by any of the four people who were allegedly assaulted.
However, it does contain notes of interviews an SAHRC official had with three of the four people, and there are differences in their version of events.
In a subsequent report on Netwerk24, the SAHRC denied it had charged Etzebeth to appease the community of Langebaan.
SAHRC chairperson Bongani Majola told the website it seemed Rapport’s report was out of context and that he does not recall a meeting where the CEO warned it did not have enough evidence to charge Etzebeth.
Concerns about the SAHRC’s perceived stance were raised after its acting legal head, Buang Jones, made comments at a public meeting in Langebaan where he vowed Etzebeth would be used to “set an example”, and that he “got away with murder”.
When Jones was interviewed for the soon-to-be-vacant post of Deputy Public Protector, he told the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services his comments were taken out of context, News24 reported two weeks ago.
Etzebeth was part of the victorious Springbok team that won the Rugby World Cup in Japan. He denied the allegations against him before leaving for Japan with the rest of the squad.
– Compiled by Jan Gerber