The commission’s possible routes include launching a probe, deciding there is no basis for a probe, going to the Equality Court or setting up mediation.

 30 August 2019

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will first assess all the evidence it has before deciding whether to proceed with an investigation into allegations that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth had racially abused a man at a pub in Langebaan over the weekend.

On Friday, SAHRC commissioner André Gaum said it first had to consider what emerged from statements and consultations.

This after West Coast community leader Sammy Classen complained to the commission after allegations surfaced that Etzebeth and a large group of friends had reportedly used a racially loaded word against someone in a pub.

The group was also accused of physical assault.

Etzebeth responded to the allegations on his Facebook page by saying: “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,” he said.

Gaum said the SAHRC’s mandate was to assess the allegations of racism and racial slurs, while the police were looking into claims of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The possible routes the commission can take as part of its complaints procedure include launching an investigation, deciding there is no basis for an investigation, going to the Equality Court or setting up possible mediation.

Etzebeth and his legal team met with the SAHRC on Thursday and had agreed to co-operate with it.

Claasen and a delegation of alleged victims were meant to meet with the commission in Cape Town on Friday but did not pitch up.

Gaum said the SAHRC was obviously interested in speaking to people who saw the alleged incident, adding that at the same time, it was taking a “responsible and cautious” approach.

Etzebeth was recently included in South Africa’s 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He was spotted with the group boarding a plane to Japan on Friday.

Gaum said while Etzebeth was in Japan, the SAHRC would continue engaging with his lawyers.

“As a commission, and as loyal South Africans, we do support the Springboks but we have a constitutional duty. When allegations are made, no matter who makes and against whom it is made, we need to look into those matters, in terms of the Constitution and in terms of legislation.

“We are obliged to be independent, and act without fear, favour or prejudice.”

Source: News24