Head of legal services at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Buang Jones, promised the community of Langebaan he would ensure Springbok star Eben Etzebeth will be charged with attempted murder.
Etzebeth stands accused of assaulting two men in an incident at the town which also allegedly saw him pull a firearm on four woman outside a pub, Die Watergat, on August 25.
The assault is alleged to have been racially charged, including the use of the h-word, leading to the SAHRC trying the rugby star for hate speech.
TimesLive reports that Buang promised the community he will “set an example” by charging Etzebeth.
“Eben Etzebeth is used to getting away with murder,” he told a packed community hall, who reacted by cheering.
“We have mounted an offensive against racism and hate speech. The facts in this case suggest there is a case for Eben to answer.”
Jones said the SAHRC had also obtained and reviewed video footage, claiming this was not the first time Etzebeth had engaged in such conduct.
“We have been told that this is not the first time Eben has done this. He always got away with it, but this time it stops here,” he added to thunderous applause.
Etzebeth was a criminal suspect who was representing South Africa at the World Cup, added Jones who also criticised SA Rugby for selecting him for the spectacle in light of the serious allegations.
“Here we have a criminal suspect who has been sent to Japan to represent our country. He is singing our national anthem. He should be in a prison cell in Langebaan. He should be charged with attempted murder.”
According to Jones, Etzebeth will have three weeks to file a responding affidavit, following which he would appear in court.
He invited the community to attend the case with “placards”.
“We are fighting a system,” he said.
Jones said the commission did not care about the offender’s prominence or standing in society, “whether you are Eben Etzebeth, Adam Catzavelos, or Angelo Agrizzi”.
“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.”
When the floor was opened for comments, one man criticised people for finding Etzebeth guilty before he has had his day in court, while another said SA Rugby had failed coloured people by sending Etzebeth to the World Cup before the allegations were tested in a court of law.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, News24 Wire.)