'Sensitive' Eben Etzebeth saga could have been handled better - parliamentary committee

2019-10-03 13:54
Eben Etzebeth (Gallo Images)

Eben Etzebeth (Gallo Images)

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Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Sports, Art and Culture believes the matter involving Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is "sensitive" and could have been handled differently.

Etzebeth has been accused of racially abusing a fellow patron at a pub in Langebaan in August.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said this week that it would "institute legal proceedings" against him in the Equality Court on Friday, while the police are investigating a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, crimen injuria and the pointing of a firearm.

SA Rugby, meanwhile, has launched an internal investigation into the allegations.

"The matter could have been handled differently and SA Rugby and the Human Rights Commission should improve on dealing with matters of this nature," committee chair Beauty Dlulane said on Thursday.

"The approach in handling these matters should be corrective and not what appears to be a media embarrassment of Mr Etzebeth and distraction to South Africa's participation at the World Cup."

'Not even formally charged'

Etzebeth is currently in Japan, where the Springboks are playing in the Rugby World Cup.

He has denied the allegations, insisting that "multiple witnesses can corroborate that".

Sport24 reported that SA Rugby was co-operating with authorities, but had not considered sending Etzebeth home.

"They have not asked us to bring him back and he has not even been formally charged," SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said.

Dlulane said that, if there were grounds for prosecution, that should be decided by competent bodies after a rigorous process of establishing what happened.

News24 understands that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has referred the docket back to the investigating officer for further investigation.

"Running commentary in the media, especially given the seriousness of what Mr Etzebeth is alleged to have done, will not solve anything. Everyone has an opinion on the matter, but the time is for the right bodies to find the facts of the matter and act accordingly," Dlulane said.

She said the committee was concerned about the amount of time that had passed since the alleged incident.

The committee wished the Springboks well in their clash against Italy on Friday.

Read more on:    parliament  |  sa rugby  |  eben etzebeth  |  sport  |  racism
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