Court battle looms, but Etzebeth’s legal team is pleased with early signs

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is facing charges of racism and assault. Picture: Gallo Images

After being acquitted by an independent inquiry on two charges, Eben Etzebeth’s lawyer believes the decision suggests the evidence shows the rugby star is innocent.

While he awaits the outcome of a pending legal case, a decision by an internal SA Rugby investigation has partly vindicated Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, according to his legal team.

Etzebeth was cleared by the national federation, it was revealed last week by Rapport newspaper, after he had been accused of racism and assault following an incident in Langebaan last year, shortly before the Bok team was announced for the World Cup.

In an independent inquiry launched by Saru, and led by a retired judge, Etzebeth was reportedly found not guilty.

The case had not yet been heard by the Equality Court, however, with four complainants requesting R1 million in compensation, according to News24, after alleging that Etzebeth had used a racial slur towards them when he was leaving a pub.

Etzebeth was also facing criminal charges, with local community leaders reportedly insisting the process needed to be completed.

Etzebeth’s lawyer Andre Calitz nonetheless believed his client had
taken a step closer to clearing his name.

“I can’t really comment on that (Saru) finding, except that it confirms our case that Eben wasn’t guilty of any wrong-doing,” Calitz said on Wednesday.

Etzebeth in a line-out during the Rugby World Cup final in Tokyo last year. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Calitz admitted he was uncertain, however, how much of an effect the decision would have on the outcome of the ongoing legal battle.

“It underlines and confirms our stance that Eben has been innocent from the start, which of course is a very positive development for us, but I really can’t predict what is going to happen in the future,” Calitz said.

Though his legal team had not been officially informed of the Saru inquiry’s decision, the news had reached Etzebeth at his base in France, where he played for French club Toulon.

“Eben and I are in talks on a regular basis and he has been notified about the latest developments,” Calitz said.

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