Sports ministry clears up stance on Willemse saga

    2018-06-22 13:54

    Cape Town - South Africa’s sports ministry has cleared up the confusion regarding its stance on the outcome of the independent review into the on-air incident involving SuperSport rugby pundits Ashwin Willemse, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

    The review followed after Willemse last month walked off a live broadcast after he claimed he "felt patronised" by co-analysts Mallett and Botha.

    On Tuesday, SuperSport, via their CEO Gideon Khobane, confirmed that no suggestions of racism were found on the part of Mallett and Botha, and confirmed that Willemse himself refrained from taking part in the review conducted by Advocate Vincent Maleka SC.

    Immediately thereafter reports suggested that the sports ministry had "welcomed the findings" of the review which cleared Botha and Mallett of racism.

    However, Vuyo Mhaga, the spokesperson for Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa, on Friday confirmed to Sport24 that it was in fact incorrect to report that the minister had welcomed the findings of the SuperSport report.

    “The most important part is that we noted the process that SuperSport went through. We accept the work that has been done," Mhaga said.

    Mhaga added that they “can’t comment” on whether they felt the findings were non-racial or not.

    Willemse has subsequently indicated via his attorneys that he would take the matter to the Equality Court, a move that the sports ministry welcomed.

    When probed on whether the ministry supported Willemse’s decision, Mhaga replied: "Yes, as long as all South Africans can know what was said.”

    Immediately after the incident occurred in May, Xasa had sensationally called for the suspension of Botha and Mallett.

    “This behaviour of entitlement by some white South Africans who continue to think that their whiteness represent better must come to an end, if it was not for a barbaric nonsensical apartheid system that privileged them we could not have implemented quota system to normalise an otherwise abnormal system. The continued appearance of Mallet and Botha will be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour,” Xasa said in a statement.

    However, this time around the ministry said it would wait before releasing an official statement on the matter.

    “It is not a conclusive story (yet), all the evidence was not heard,” Mhaga responded when asked if they were planning on releasing a statement.

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