Tokozile Xasa. Picture: TSHEKO KABASIA
Tokozile Xasa. Picture: TSHEKO KABASIA

Sports and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa on Sunday called on SuperSport to suspend Nick Mallett and Naas Botha while it is investigating an incident which led to former Springbok player Ashwin Willemse walking out of a studio during a live broadcast.

"The continued appearance of Mallett and Botha will be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour‚" Xasa said.

Willemse walked off set following comments apparently made by fellow presenters Mallett and Botha.

Mallett is a former Springbok player and coach and Botha is a former Springbok captain and flyhalf.

The incident happened following the Lions’ 42-24 win over the Brumbies at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

In a statement‚ Xasa also condemned the continued behaviour of white entitlement in the sport of rugby.

"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 [would] not have implemented [a] quota system to normalise an otherwise abnormal system."

She said Willemse was not just a former Springbok player but in 2003 he was named SA Rugby Player of the Year‚ young player of the year and the player’s player of the year.

"Players like Willemse‚ (Bryan) Habana‚ (Siya) Kolisi continue to make us proud as a nation and affirm that they are not token players or quota players." Xasa said.

She said the department noted that the quota system had been largely unsuccessful in bringing about an effectively transformed sport system and this caused substantial damage for many black players who were labelled as "tokens".

Meanwhile civil rights organisation AfriForum on Sunday  criticised what it calls the premature "conviction" of Mallett and Botha,  blaming it on "anti-white" sentiment.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said the organisation found it regrettable that an outburst with an apparent racial undertone had happened during the broadcast.

"[The] incident … can only exacerbate racial polarisation."

He said it was "especially worrisome" that Xasa and DA leader Mmusi Maimane had – in their reaction to "this regrettable incident" — decided that Botha and Mallett should carry the blame.

This despite no investigation into the incident yet.

"AfriForum regrets that anti-white sentiment in the country is already so rife that white people are automatically blamed for whatever goes wrong‚" Kriel said.