SA Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the criminal justice system needs to be allowed to take its course in the saga involving Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth.
Etzebeth and his group of friends are accused of assault and racial abuse during a night out in Langebaan in the Western Cape.
The South African Human Rights Commission has become involved in the case, with legal head Buang Jones causing a stir with his comments during a community meeting. The commission last week filed legal papers with the Equality Court, while civil action is also being pursued.
Mthethwa, who was yet to comment on the situation, has broken his silence on the saga while speaking at the announcement of the nominees for the South African Sports Awards on Friday.
‘Our jurisprudence states that any person is innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law,’ Mthethwa said. ‘It cuts across everybody in society and we have full confidence in our criminal justice system that justice is going to be done in this matter.’
‘Let me say it categorically that we are not going to tolerate any racism whenever it manifests itself. If this process finds him to have violated human rights‚ he will have to face the music.
‘We have given the space to the rugby leadership to speak to the coach and he did say that if it is found that any of his players are on the wrong side of race relations in this country‚ steps will have to be taken. It cuts across and that is the position of government.’
Mthethwa urged the country to get behind the Boks as they look to claim their first World Cup title since 2007.
‘We will be watching and the team must be supported 100 % because they are not representing an individual but the whole country. They are hoisting the flag of SA high‚ so all South Africans must be behind the team to win.’
Photo: Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets