There are 14 days before the Springboks next match, pull Eben Etzebeth home and put him in the dock and if there are no charges, let that be the end to this sorry affair. Picture: AP
THE SPRINGBOKS took another step towards qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup in Japan yesterday - which will be played in exactly a fortnight’s time from today.

It’s a welcome breathing space for a team that has been building steadily during this campaign. There is only one cloud, the fate - and indeed culpability - of the colossal lock forward, and potential Webb Ellis trophy winner, Eben Etzebeth.

He stands accused of assaulting two men in Langebaan in the Western Cape in an ugly racial incident just before the squad left for the Far East. It is a story that will not go away and, given our country’s fraught history, should not be allowed to go away. But nor must we lose sight of the constitutional imperative that a person is presumed innocent until proved otherwise.

Delaying proceedings, secret agreements to hold off until after the World Cup suggest that not only does Etzebeth have a case to face, but that South Africa needs him more on the world stage than for justice to be done. This is an abhorrent state of affairs.

But so too is the opposite - the untested allegations and opinions in the court of public opinion that are already convicting him. The only fair and proper course of action is for the law to take its course - now.

There are three days before the next match, pull him home and put him in the dock and if there are no charges, let that be an end to this sorry affair and send him back to represent us. If there are charges though, based on prima facie evidence, then he must face those now, irrespective of the consequences to the team.

There can be no room for compromise, not if we are serious about upholding the rule of law - for everyone.