SAHRC's acting head of legal services Buang Jones. Picture: ANA Reporter

Cape Town - Parliament has turned the heat on candidates vying for the position of deputy public protector.

One of those grilled on Tuesday was South African Human Rights Commission acting head of legal services Buang Jones, whose recent remarks over Springbok player Eben Etzebeth came back to haunt him.

Jones was quoted in October saying that Etzebeth, who had been embroiled in a racism row following an incident in Langebaan in the Western Cape in August, was used to getting away with murder and that the player would be used to “set an example” at a community meeting in the area.

The matter surfaced when Justice and Correctional Services Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe asked him (Jones) if he was facing any hearing or inquiry.

Jones indicated that there was a request from the Afrikanerbond for an investigation into his remarks.

He told the MPs that the commission had since obtained two legal opinions which, he maintained, exonerated him.

“There are two legal opinions which did not find anything wrong with my statement and that there was nothing untoward or harmfully offensive.”

When DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach asked how his remarks fit into rule of law, Jones said his comments were taken out of context.

“The statement was made in reference to other alleged incidents involving Mr Etzebeth, his family and friends which it is alleged that the SAPS did nothing about We were informed (that) even the prosecuting authority did nothing about it. We (commission) said ‘it stops here’,” Jones told MPs.

Jones, who has worked at the commission for about a decade, said that he had found a niche and a calling in the defence of the voiceless and the downtrodden masses.

“I believe in connecting with the people on the ground. I believe in engaging with communities directly,” said Jones.

Meanwhile, advocate Shadrack Nkuna, the deputy director for the Public Service Commission in Limpopo, said the Office of the Public Protector should serve as a safe refuge for people in weaker positions.

The former Hawks officer, also vying for the position, said he would execute duties delegated to him by advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane should he be appointed.

“As soon I am appointed I will have a discussion with the public protector. If we don’t work together, we are creating fertile ground for groups to develop in the organisation,” he said.

He added: “We need to communicate more. I should be given an opportunity to raise ideas and offer solutions to the problems.”

He also told the MPs that he would investigate any complaint brought to him involving any member of the executive.

“I would not be guided by anything else other than law and fact We must avoid being seen as aligned to political factions of any party,” he added.