Alleged broken plane light, bloody knuckles and a court appearance for Springbok Elton Jantjies
The Bok flyhalf was allegedly ‘unruly’ and ‘disruptive’ during a flight, according to an Emirates statement.
Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies was arrested and charged with malicious damage to property and the contravention of the Civil Aviation Act on arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Sunday.
He was released on R1,000 bail and appeared at the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
“He was arrested when the plane landed at OR Tambo International Airport, following complaints from the flight crew members about a passenger in the business class that was swearing at passengers and crew members,” said Phindi Mjonondwane, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson for Gauteng.
“He is also alleged to have broken a TV screen and bulb when he was ordered to return to his seat after breaking a glass that cut his finger, in the business class stretching area.”
Jantjies’ lawyer Nabeela Moola asked the court to ban the media from filming and taking pictures of proceedings. Moola argued that the State had not proved that an offence had been committed.
Moola argued that media coverage would adversely affect Jantjies’ reputation and put his employment and endorsement contracts at risk.
Confirmation of incident
The incident and the aftermath were confirmed by Emirates Airline.
“Emirates can confirm that on 15 May an incident occurred on flight EK761 from Dubai to Johannesburg, whereby an unruly passenger was disruptive onboard the aircraft,” a statement from the airline read.
“Upon arrival, the passenger was met by local authorities. The safety of our passengers and crew is of critical importance and will not be compromised. As the matter is now under police investigation, Emirates cannot comment further on the incident.”
The South African Police Service (SAPS) also confirmed the arrest of Jantjies.
“The SAPS can confirm that the 31-year-old man who was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport [ORTIA] for malicious damage to property was released on bail on Sunday afternoon,” said Colonel Athlenda Mathe.
“The man was arrested upon arrival at ORTIA on Sunday morning at 08:50. The suspect was on an international flight from Dubai to SA when he allegedly damaged property belonging to the airline.”
The case has been scheduled for 3 June and Jantjies is out on bail, which was granted at the Kempton Park police station.
James Adams, Jantjies’ agent, put out a statement through the agency In Touch Sports on social media on Sunday evening, playing down the actions of Jantjies.
“It is alleged that while on board the plane, a light was damaged. We believe that the incident has been unnecessarily heightened,” read the statement by Adams.
However, News24 witness testimonies and the official statement from the NPA suggest there was more to the incident.
The World Cup-winning playmaker, with 42 Springbok caps to his name, was on board Emirates Airline Flight EK761 which departed from Dubai to Johannesburg. Jantjies was reportedly on holiday with his wife and three children in Turkey when he flew home to South Africa on his own.
He was a passenger in business class and allegedly made his way to economy class, where he began banging on a toilet door. Despite one witness telling News24 “he was walking in a clumsy way”, it has not been confirmed whether Jantjies was intoxicated.
“He was banging on the toilet door, saying in Afrikaans, ‘Komaan, my skat’ [Come on, my darling],” News24 reported. “It was clear that he wanted to speak to someone in the bathroom and he ended up punching the door of the bathroom. That caused his knuckles to start bleeding.”
The door-banging allegedly went on for 10 minutes.
“He came back to business class. The blood of his knuckles was all over the toilet door, and he was moving through the cabin, smearing blood on people’s seats because he was walking clumsily. A blonde Emirates hostess then came out of the bathroom, and you could see she was terrified,” News24 quoted the passenger as saying.
Jantjies injured his shoulder in January this year while playing for NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes in Japan. He has not played any rugby since and has been spending time between his home in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where he has been undergoing strength and conditioning rehabilitation with the South Africa Rugby Union (Saru).
“We’ve been informed of Elton’s arrest, but we are still in the process of gathering more information and can’t say anything at this stage,” a Saru spokesperson said.
The Springboks take on Wales at the start of July. Jantjies’ availability was already in doubt because of his injury, but this incident places further doubt on the future of the Springbok playmaker on the field of play in the green and gold of South Africa. DM