UPDATED: Dramatic twist in Etzebeth saga
UPDATED WITH SA RUGBY REACTION: There was a dramatic twist in the ongoing saga involving veteran Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and a brawl in Langebaan.
On the eve of the team’s departure for the World Cup in Japan, Etzebeth appeared before the Human Rights Commission to answer questions related to the incident at the West Coast town at the weekend.
The accusations against Etzebeth – based on a grainy and dark video that shows very little – suggested he had assaulted a member of the public.
It was alleged that Etzebeth‚ who was with members of his family and friends‚ also made racial slurs.
On Sunday there was swift calls from a political group, the Khoisan Defiance Campaign, for the Springbok to be axed and arrested for assault.
Another statement was released by the group on Tuesday.
Despite the fallout over the incident, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus back the lock and included Etzebeth in his squad for the World Cup.
The team is due to leave for Japan on Friday.
Erasmus, at the team’s departure media briefing, confirmed the lock appeared in front of the HRC on Thursday.
He reiterated again that he still believes the player’s version of the events.
“There is always a coach-player relationship and there is always trust in that [relationship],”Erasmus told the media briefing.
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“There are a lot of this said on social media, not just about Eben, but a lot of things we have to handle daily. [Some of that] we just ignore, because it is just nonsense.
“This [Etzebeth saga] has become a real big thing.
“I have to believe what the player tells me. Until something else is proven differently, only then can we act.
“The update I can give you, which I only heard [about] this morning, is that there was a complaint at the HRC.
“Eben and Eugene [Henning] our player affairs manager is there – in discussion with the Human Right Commission this afternoon
“There is no police [charges] or anything else that we have heard of. We have only heard of the complaint at the HRC.”
SA Rugby also confirmed, in a statement, that Etzebeth met with the Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“The purpose of the meeting was to advise the player of the role the HRC takes in relation to a complaint received, as well as the subsequent media reports relating to it, and to establish a commitment of cooperation between the two parties,” the statement said.
“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 HRC and has pledged his full cooperation in the matter.”
The Springbok lock still hasn’t been charged by police and is set to fly out with the team to Japan on Friday.
While the 27-year-old lock’s legal representative, Andre Calitz, previously confirmed that his client hadn’t been charged by police for his involvement in the alleged assault of 42-year-old Enver Wilsnach in Langebaan, Etzebeth was summoned to a meeting with the HRC.
Sammy Claassen, of the Khoisan Defiance Campaign, continued to use social media to campaign against the Bok lock.
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