Springbok lock sues SA Human Rights Commission



Springbok rugby star Eben Etzebeth has turned to the High Court to prevent an alleged racist assault case from going to the Equality Court.

Etzebeth is alleged to have been part of an alleged race-based assault in the west coast town of Langebaan, just days before the Springbok World Cup squad announcement in August.

Four people alleged Etzebeth and a group of other men assaulted, pistol-whipped and racially abused them in the early hours of a Sunday morning, after local bars had closed.

READ MORE: Racism stops rugby’s try at uniting South Africa

It is also alleged that Etzebeth called 42-year-old Enver Wilsnach a “hotnot”, a derogatory term for coloured people.

The rugby star has vehemently denied the allegations.

Two weeks ago, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced that it was taking the complaint to the Equality Court to make a determination on the matter.

Now it appears that Etzebeth’s lawyers want to stop the case from reaching the court.

SAHRC Chairperson Bongani Majola confirmed that the commission has been served by Etzebeth’s lawyers.

“We have received their papers. They were served on our legal services unit in the morning. I just got them. It’s quite a thick document, so I won’t be able to give you comment now.”

The commission’s investigation into the Etzebeth matter has been dogged by controversy, with opposing interest groups claiming the human rights body has not been doing its work properly.

The Afrikanerbond — a successor of the Broederbond — have raised concerns over the rights body’s handling of the matter. They have said that Etzebeth was being judged before a police investigation has been completed.

Groups supporting the alleged victims meanwhile say Etzebeth has been shown favouritism by being allowed to travel with the team to the Rugby World Cup in Japan before the matter had been finalised.

The SAHRC says it will issue a detailed statement once they have studied the court papers.

The Mail & Guardian will update this story when more details of the court papers emerge.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

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