Nothing untoward about SAHRC representing Langebaan Four in Etzebeth case – Western Cape commissioner

accreditation
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth. (Gallo Images)
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth. (Gallo Images)

There is nothing untoward about the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) representing the so-called Langebaan Four in the Equality Court case against Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, Western Cape commissioner Chris Nissen says.

The independent Chapter 9 institution has a number of functions, including providing legal services for the protection of human rights.

"Every SAHRC provincial office is an accredited law clinic and can, as such, represent clients who lodge complaints," Nissen explained.

The commission also has an arrangement with certain law firms and legal aid clinics who represent complainants pro bono.

Most complaints that reach the SAHRC were made by people who cannot afford their own legal representation, he said.

In addition to legal services, it also conducts research and advocacy.

Concerns were raised regarding the SAHRC's Buang Jones' comments at a public meeting in Langebaan last week, where he vowed that Etzebeth would be used to "set an example" following racism and assault allegations being made against the Springbok.

Following criticism of his utterances and being accused of being biased toward white respondents, Jones denied this, pointing out that the SAHRC had also taken Julius Malema to court.

On Friday, it submitted a form to institute a hate speech case against Etzebeth in the Equality Court, sitting in Hopefield on the West Coast. It was acting in a representative capacity for the so-called Langebaan Four who allege Etzebeth had used a racial slur against them.

They are looking for compensation of more than R1m and orders directing Etzebeth to apologise, to undergo anger management and racial sensitivity training, and to do community service.

Etzebeth has denied the allegations.

News24 reported that SAHRC commissioner André Gaum said in Parliament on Tuesday that it would investigate Jones' statements on the Eben Etzebeth matter, as well as his ongoing involvement in the case.

Nissen said the SAHRC had always maintained that Etzebeth was innocent until proven guilty before a court.

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