South Africa


Human Rights Commission takes next steps in Eben Etzebeth case 

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

The Boks are set to land in SA to a heroes’ welcome, but for Eben Etzebeth, that high may be short-lived. The Springbok lock still has an Equality Court case looming over him and despite the Springbok filing papers asking that the SA Human Rights Commission drop the case against him, the commission on Monday indicated it would forge ahead. 

After receiving “legal opinion” on Monday, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) decided it will remain involved in the hate speech case against Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth. 

Etzebeth had filed papers at the South Gauteng High Court, in early October, requesting that the case be reviewed.  

The SAHRC chairperson, advocate Bongani Majola, told Daily Maverick that the commission plans to file all the documents it used to lodge the Equality Court case against the rugby star in the High Court soon.

The papers will explain why we lodged the Equality Court case,” he said. 

Once those are lodged, Etzebeth will have 10 days to decide whether he wants to supplement his application against the SAHRC, following which the commission will indicate whether or not it will oppose his application. 

Majola said the commission intended to go ahead with the Equality Court case, which was currently suspended until the High Court application was resolved. 

The commission opened a hate speech case against Etzebeth on October 4 at the Hopefield Magistrate’s Court, on behalf of four complainants who call themselves the Langebaan Four. They allege Etzebeth physically assaulted them and referred to them as h*tnots outside a Langebaan pub called Die Watergat.

Etzebeth, who denied the claims, filed papers against the SAHRC at the High Court in Johannesburg on 11 October. He was still in Japan at the time. 

Daily Maverick previously reported that Etzebeth claimed the Human Rights Commission’s actions were “unlawful” as the commission had failed to complete an investigation before approaching the Equality Court.

Etzebeth also felt he had not been given sufficient time to respond to the allegations, and at the time he made his submission to the High Court, had not seen the formal written complaint made to the commission.

If an investigation is started, Etzebeth has requested that none of the commissioners involved in proceedings up to this point be allowed to conduct the fresh investigation.

The SAHRC’s acting legal head, Buang Jones, is also under internal investigation following his conduct during the early days of the saga. 

Jones had made public statements regarding Etzebeth, including one in which he promised the Langebaan community during a public meeting that he would ensure the Springbok would be charged with “attempted murder”. 

The complainants are seeking compensation of more than R1-million, for Etzebeth to issue a formal apology to the coloured community and South Africa at large, undergo anger management and racial sensitivity training and perform community service in Langebaan. DM


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