Springbok player Eben Etzebeth. Picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA

Cape Town - The case involving Eben Etzebeth could have been handled differently and not what appears to be a media embarrassment of the Springbok player, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture said on Thursday.

Beauty Dlulane, chairperson of the committee, said that the matter was sensitive and needed to be handled with care.

“The matter could have been handled differently and SA Rugby and the Human Rights Commission should improve on dealing with matters of this nature.

"The approach in handling these matters should be corrective and not what appears to be a media embarrassment of Mr Etzebeth and distraction to South Africa’s participation at the World Cup,” Dlulane said. 

Etzebeth is alleged to have abused a homeless man on a night out in Langebaan on the West Coast in August, an allegation he has since denied.

This week the South African Human Right Commission (SAHRC) said it would approach the Equality Court to ask it to hear what amounts to a civil case.

State prosecutors have yet to decide whether there is a case to answer.

Etzebeth has denied any wrongdoing and for now remains part of the South African squad. The lock will line-up against Italy in a must-win Rugby World Cup Pool B clash at the Shizuoka Stadium in Japan on Friday.

South African Rugby said on Thursday it would abide by the jurisdiction of the Equality Court and confirmed it had instituted an "internal process" to address the issue.

Dlulane said the committee has noted how SA Rugby is dealing with the matter and the steps the company has followed. 

He said if there were grounds for prosecution, that ought to be decided by competent bodies and only after a rigorous process of establishing what had happened. 

“Running commentary in the media, especially given the seriousness of what Mr Etzebeth is alleged to have done, will not solve anything. Everyone has an opinion on the matter, but the time is for the right bodies to find the facts of the matter and act accordingly.” 

Dlulane added that the committee was concerned about the time that has passed since the alleged incident. 

The committee also wished the Springboks well against their do or die clash against Italy on Friday. 

IOL and Reuters