Cape Town – Eben Etzebeth is likely to fly to Japan with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus' 31-man World Cup squad at the weekend with a cloud still hanging over his head.
When asked for comment on whether Etzebeth has been cleared of alleged assault, which took place outside a popular Langebaan pub and grill at the weekend, police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk told the Cape Times on Thursday: "This office can confirm that a case of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm was registered for investigation at Langebaan SAPS.
"The mentioned person is not yet exonerated by the police as the case is still under investigation."
After the Springbok World Cup squad announcement on Monday, Etzebeth, who said he had spoken to police regarding the incident, claimed that "everything is fine. Now I can just focus on the World Cup”, Netwerk24 reported.
The SA Rugby Union said on Monday Bok lock Etzebeth, 27, would remain a member of the squad unless authorities ask the organisation to reconsider its decision.
Various versions of the event have been circulating in videos and voice notes on social media.
Charges have been laid by two men who alleged that the 2.04m Etzebeth, along with his brother and friends, hurled racial slurs and assaulted their group during an altercation outside Die Water Gat at the Langebaan Yacht Club .
Van Wyk has also indicated that the "circulated voice note is part of the investigation, but the person on the voice note is still unknown".
The lawyer representing the complainants in the assault case against Etzebeth said the matter has been referred to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether to pursue the case or not, the SABC reported.
The complainants' lawyer, Nigel Samuels, said: "The statements in the docket says that the person that took part in the assault on them was Eben Etzebeth.
"The case has been opened and the docket was given over by the police to the State prosecutors.
"The State prosecutors decided that they are going to send the docket to the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision."
Etzebeth maintains his innocence and said on Facebook on Sunday: “It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan, as has been reported on social media. Multiple witnesses can corroborate that.
“I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love.”
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus told the media at the squad announcement: “I’m pretty comfortable with what he has told me. You can’t just believe what someone else says on social media.
“I’m comfortable that it’s not the truth, and if anything like that was the truth, then they would not be part of our team and would not go to the World Cup.”
The Daily Voice reported that a second video, posted on YouTube, allegedly showing a “racist attack” by Etzebeth, emerged on Monday. In this video, filmed inside Die Water Gat, someone can be heard repeatedly shouting “fo*of”.
This is alleged to be Etzebeth after he was told to apologise to a patron whom he had allegedly hit with a glass of brandy.
Etzebeth allegedly also called the coloured man a “hot**t” and assaulted him outside the pub.
In the first video, a group of men follow another group and someone shouts: “Maak ’n video van die n*** wat virrie Springbokke speel.”
According to a source, Etzebeth and his friends were leaving the restaurant when someone in their group allegedly referred to some coloured men as "hot****e" and a fight ensued outside the pub.
Meanwhile, the Boks will become the first foreign side to arrive ahead of the global showpiece when they touch down in Japan at the weekend.
The Boks will face Japan in a warm-up game on September 6. Two weeks later, they will take on the All Blacks in the Pool B opener in Yokohama.