If you have followed the news in recent weeks you will know that Springbok Lock Eben Etzebeth has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons. While Eben was enjoying some time off in the small town of Langebaan he allegedly got into an altercation with a homeless man in a bar. The allegations also go so far as to say that Etzebeth threatened the man with a gun and uttered a racist slur towards the man. Eben has, of course, denied the allegations and was cleared by the SAPS (South African Police Service) to travel to Japan to play in the world cup.
SA Rugby has decided to investigate on the back of an investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission. The SAHRC announced that they would be presuming the matter with legal proceedings against the 27-year-old Springbok. The commission said< “We will definitely ask for monetary compensation. We will ask for a public apology. We will ask for the criminal prosecution of Mr Etzebeth. We will ask for community service and other forms of relief.” Buang Jones, acting head of legal services for SAHRC also said, “The community are demanding justice.”
Initially, when I heard about this story, I thought it was a nothing story and perhaps someone saw an opportunity to exploit a wealthy sportsman but the more I read about this story the more worried I am that these allegations might be true. It’s always difficult in a case like this because often most of the evidence is hearsay and in a case like this, the community will usually back the person making the allegations.
I find it disturbing that Eben would utter something racist towards anyone because if it is true it is just further evidence that this country is in dire need of education for both young and old. Education is the only way to eradicate racism. People need to be educated and unlearn the old ways if we want to move forward as a nation. Now nothing has been proved yet with regards to the case against Etzebeth, but the matter is being taken very seriously by SAHRC and SA Rugby.
I hope that when its all said and done that Eben is cleared of the charges as I don’t want to live in a world where one of my favourite sportsmen is a racist or violent towards people. Sportsmen and women are held to a different standard and while some will say they are still human; I say they need to know the influence they have on young minds and to be mindful of how they are perceived by young people. They need to accept that they are one of two things, one, part of the problem or two, part of the solution. Yes, they are normal people as well and have their own lives but by choosing to be in the public eye they must also accept that people will look up to them and copy their behaviour. As unfair as it may seem, if you want to play international sport, you will be held to a higher standard and to be fair I don’t think it is a higher standard. People shouldn’t be violent toward one another and racism is a stupid concept.