A Racial Storm Hangs Over Langebaan

By Pinky Khoabane

WHILE some of our South African compatriots will be focussed on the quarter final game between South Africa and Japan at the Rugby World Cup, a racial war hangs over Langebaan, the area where Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth allegedly spewed racist bile at several people and assaulted two and landed them in hospital unconscious. 

The story of the hate speech and assault cases have been downplayed in corporate media to ensure the least damage on a sport that is pervasively racist. 

Much has happened since Etzebeth and his family and friends went on a night out in Langebaan two days before the selection of the South African rugby world cup squad was announced. He and his friends are said to have gotten involved in brawls which included calling people hotnots (a derogatory term for coloured people) and beating up two young men who were accompanying two waitresses home at around 2am. They allegedly pointed guns at the two waitresses. 

Although the victims laid charges with the SAPS and the South African Rugby Union was alerted to the allegations of racism against Etzebeth, he was still selected to go to the world cup. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) got involved and it is alleged that one of its commissioners, Andre Gaum, went behind the victims’ backs to strike a deal that ensured Etzebeth could still be selected for the world cup. Gaum has denied allegations of brokering a deal with the Springbok but confirmed he had met with the alleged perpetrator’s team and said it was normal practice in investigating complaints lodged with the SAHRC. The community of Langebaan however, took issue with the fact that Gaum attended a community meeting after the meeting with Etzebeth and did not disclose to them of his meeting with the accused perpetrators. 

As a result of what transpired between the community and SAHRC, a team including members from SAHRC head office visited the community. Among them was the legal head, Buang Jones, who has been accused by racists and a right-wing formation of stoking hatred between races. Talk of moving goal posts but as I wrote in this piece, that’s typical manifestation of racism denialism

The SAHRC took into account the views of the racists and lodged an investigation into Jones’s utterances at the community meeting. They didnt stop there, they also gagged him from speaking to the media. One word – appalling.

In a twist to the entire story, the alleged racist then took the SAHRC to court. The community of Langebaan have vowed to become friends of the SAHRC in the court proceedings.

In the ensuing battle over the Langebaan’s quest for accountability on the part of Etzebeth and SARU, the community has gone on marches and the defenders of the Springbok have responded with their own racist counter campaign. 

In the latest, the Langebaan Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum, Peter Lindenberg, is attempting to bully into silence two community members involved in the Etzebeth matter. He talks of funders and volunteers who want to pull out on the good work that the CPF is doing due to a supposedly racist narrative promoted by the two activists. 

Here is his email.

Our intelligence service is busy fighting among themselves while this community is up in arms over this matter and a racial war looms. When it all blows up we will all be “surprised” as is often the case in our country,. 

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