Minister Nathi Mthethwa speaks out on Eben Etzebeth saga

Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa says Eben Etzebeth remains innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law
Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa says Eben Etzebeth remains innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law
Image: BackpagePix

Minister of sport Nathi Mthethwa has broken his silence on the Eben Etzebeth saga, saying the Springbok lock remains innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.

Etzebeth‚ together with a group of friends‚ is under investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission and the police for allegedly assaulting and racially abusing people on a night out in Langebaan in the Western Cape in August.

“Our jurisprudence states that any person is innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law.

“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‚” Mthethwa said on Friday, when announcing the nominees for the South African Sports Awards.

Mthethwa said Etzebeth – who is likely to be in the starting lineup for the Springboks in the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup – would have to face the music if found guilty of any wrongdoing.

“Let me say it categorically that we are not going to tolerate any racism,” he said.

“We have given the space to the rugby leadership to speak to the coach [Rassie Erasmus] and he [Erasmus] 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.”

Asked why the government allowed Etzebeth to travel with the team to the World Cup despite the cloud hanging over him‚ Mthethwa said it did not interfere with the selection of national teams.

“We don’t enter those spaces of selection and we were informed that there is a criminal case that was opened‚” he said.

“We will be watching and the team must be supported 100%.”

Springbok matches at the tournament are not being televised by the SABC and Mthethwa said the lack of coverage on the public broadcaster was a concern for everyone.

X