New twists in Etzebeth saga
UPDATE: The protracted Eben Etzebeth saga has been thrust back into the spotlight.
Weekend media reports of alleged gaffes by the South African Human Rights Commission have been met with a swift response and a repeat of suggestions that there is indeed prima facie evidence against the World Cup-winning lock.
The saga stems from an incident in the West Coast town of Langebaan the early hours of August 25 – just days before the Boks’ departure to the World Cup in Japan.
Etzebeth was accused of racial, verbal and physical; abuse of a group of men.
Charges were laid by the SAHRC in the Equality Court, representing the so-called Langebaan Four in the ongoing saga.
The case has divided South Africans during a month which will be remembered for the Springboks’ epic achievements in Japan.
With the euphoric scenes of their victorious arrival in Johannesburg a five-day trophy tour fading fast, the country is once again split – those who feel that Etzebeth is innocent until proven otherwise and the others who believe he must face a strict punishment as soon as possible.
Weekend reports suggested the SAHRC case have been blighted by bumbling investigations and that they are “not prepared” to secure a conviction against the lock.
However, the SAHRC has denied claims that it had not gathered enough evidence to prosecute Etzebeth.
SAHRC Chairman Bongani Majola said claims that the commission’s executive head, advocate Tseliso Thipanyane, had expressed doubt about forging ahead with the case due to a lack of evidence were “completely false”.
“There is no truth in those claims,” Majola said.
“From the complainants, we’ve got everything. We have the evidence.
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In contrast, a weekend report quoted documents that suggested Thipanyane said at a recent SAHRC meeting that “I really would not want us to go to court without a proper investigation”.
Majola said a high court interdict to have the case dismissed was holding up proceedings.
“We are prepared to go to court. When his [Etzebeth’s] application in the high court to stop us from going to the equality court is dismissed, then we will be ready to go.”
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.
The Commission was always going to come under-fire at such an important time in South Africa’s sporting history.
The ‘trial-by-social-media’ Etzebeth has experienced so far has been uncomfortable for all.
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.
This is contained in internal documents that the SAHRC handed over to Etzebeth’s legal team.
Sources: Netwerk24, The South African & TimesLive