Chair of parliamentary committee on sport calls for restraint in Ashwin Willemse matter
Cape Town - The chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, Beauty Dlulane, has called for circumspection in dealing with the incident in which former Springbok Ashwin Willemse left the SuperSport studio during a broadcast on Saturday evening.
Willemse was commenting on the Super Rugby match between the Lions and Brumbies with former Springboks Naas Botha and Nick Mallett.
In a statement released on Monday, Dlulane described the incident as "unfortunate" and called for a "speedy resolution".
SuperSport indicated on Sunday that it was investigating the matter.
"The incident is concerning and should be addressed speedily, as it has invoked much emotion. We condemn racism in sport in all its manifestations, as it has the potential to polarise society," Dlulane said.
"South Africans should be circumspect in commenting on this matter, and should allow the investigation to proceed and reach a conclusion. As things are, everyone is venturing an opinion about a matter on which we lack details."
Speaking after the match, Willemse said on live television that he would not tolerate being patronised by people who only played rugby during the apartheid era.
Before walking off set, he lamented that he had been categorised as a quota player all his life, while he worked very hard to get a place in the Springbok team.
Willemse was named South African rugby Player of the Year in 2003. He wore the green and gold in 19 Tests, scoring five tries. He was part of the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning squad.
Dlulane said if indeed it was found that the incident had anything to do with racial discrimination, as Willemse suggested, MultiChoice should do what is necessary as per its code of conduct that regulates the behaviour of guest analysts.
Dlulane said South Africans needed to accept that differences of opinion during sports analysis were inevitable and were the reason panel discussions were constituted.
"This incident better be about that, and that only," Dlulane said.
She called for restraint, saying that discussion should not be adversarial or be reduced to myopic, racial narratives.