South African union probes Etze­beth as­sault and racial abuse claims

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World -

The South African Rugby Union has launched an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion over an al­le­ga­tion of as­sault and racial abuse against Eben Etze­beth, the sec­ond-row for­ward who starts to­day for the Spring­boks against Italy in Shizuoka.

Etze­beth is al­leged to have as­saulted, racially abused and pointed a gun at a 42-year-old home­less man in Lange­baan, near Cape Town, in Au­gust. The 81-cap lock strongly de­nied he was in­volved in the in­ci­dent at the time, af­ter grainy video pur­port­edly show­ing the in­ci­dent was seen on so­cial me­dia.

Etze­beth said: “It is com­pletely un­true and un­founded to claim that I phys­i­cally or racially abused any­one in Lange­baan. Mul­ti­ple wit­nesses can cor­rob­o­rate that.”

At a South African Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (SAHRC) meet­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg, he de­nied wrong­do­ing and promised full co­op­er­a­tion.

SARU has in­sisted it would not tol­er­ate “acts of vi­o­lence or racial abuse” and in Au­gust ac­knowl­edged Etze­beth’s de­nial, say­ing it trusted play­ers to tell the truth.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ing body has now cho­sen to con­duct the re­view in the mid­dle of South Africa’s World Cup cam­paign as op­posed to when the al­le­ga­tions first emerged.

The SAHRC was due to meet the com­plainant yes­ter­day. Buang Jones, one of its of­fi­cials, said: “We will def­i­nitely ask for mone­tary com­pen­sa­tion. We will ask for a pub­lic apol­ogy. We will ask for crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion of Mr Etze­beth. We will ask for com­mu­nity ser­vice and other forms of re­lief.”

How­ever, Siya Kolisi, the South Africa cap­tain, and Mzwandile Stick, as­sis­tant coach, both said the mat­ter had not dis­tracted the team.

Kolisi said: “We’ve got a re­ally im­por­tant game and every game from now is a play-off game, be­cause if we slip up, we are out.”

Stick added: “Eben has been fo­cused on what we want to achieve, and the man­age­ment will deal with the case, and SA Rugby back in South Africa.”

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