FF Plus accuses SAHRC of 'double standards' in approach to Etzebeth

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Eben Etzebeth (Gallo)
Eben Etzebeth (Gallo)

The Freedom Front Plus has questioned the apparent urgency with which the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is handling the Eben Etzebeth hate speech allegations, saying on Saturday that it felt other cases were not given the same kind of attention. 

"The [SAHRC] clearly has double standards as the Etzebeth case is being handled with the utmost urgency, while other complaints, like those against the leader of the [Black First Land First] Andile Mngxitama, regarding his [alleged] racist statements and hate speech are not given the same kind of attention," charged FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald.

His comments relate to allegations that Etzebeth used a racial insult when leaving a pub in Langebaan on the West Coast in the early hours of August 25. 

The incident allegedly also involved two men being pistol whipped.

The SAHRC has submitted papers for a hate speech case against the Springbok, currently in Japan representing South Africa, at the court sitting in Hopefield on the West Coast. 

A separate criminal investigation is being conducted by police.

The "Langebaan Four", as they call themselves, are seeking compensation of more than R1m, an order directing Etzebeth to apologise to the coloured community and all South Africans, an order directing him to undergo anger management and race sensitivity training, as well as an order directing him to do community service in Langebaan, said acting SAHRC legal head Buang Jones on Friday.

'Extremely premature and biased'

Western Cape SAHRC commissioner Andre Gaum said their position was that Etzebeth was innocent until proven guilty, although Jones said previously that there was a prima facie case against him.

At a public meeting in Langebaan on Thursday night, Jones said: "We don't care whether you are a Springbok player. We don't care about your colour. We have to act. We look at the facts, and the facts from the statements obtained suggest there is a case to answer to."

READ: ‘I was a fan’, says man who alleges assault, racial abuse by Etzebeth

Jones said the SAHRC had also obtained and reviewed video footage, claiming this was not the first time Etzebeth had engaged in such conduct.

"He always got away with it. But this time around, it stops here," he added to thunderous applause.

Groenewald said Jones' statement in Langebaan was "extremely premature and biased".

"The [SAHRC] is supposed to do its work without prejudice, as Jones rightly pointed out, and yet Jones said that the [SAHRC] wants to use Etzetbeth to set a so-called example, thus, the [SAHRC] has already found him guilty without giving him an opportunity to defend himself."

'It is completely untrue'

Groenewald said his party condemned all forms of racism, but that it expected a "more responsible approach" by the SAHRC, as protector of the human rights of all in South Africa. 

"A person is supposed to be considered innocent until proven otherwise, and not the other way around."

Etzebeth has responded to the allegations on his Facebook page.

He said: "It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media. Multiple witnesses can corroborate that.

"I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love."

* Compiled by Jenni Evans

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