MP asks: did Ashwin Willemse walk out over racism, or clash of opinion?
‘The incident … should be addressed speedily‚ as it has invoked much emotion. We condemn racism in sport in all its manifestations’
Was Ashwin Willemse’s walkout from a SuperSport broadcast the result of a difference of opinion or racial discrimination?
This is the question that the chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on sport‚ Beauty Dlulane‚ asked on Monday.
She described the incident, involving rugby commentators Willemse‚ Naas Botha and Nick Mallet, as unfortunate and called for a speedy resolution.
"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‚" said Dlulane.
"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."
On Saturday‚ Willemse stated on live television that he would not tolerate being patronised by people who played rugby during the apartheid era.
Before walking off set‚ he lamented that he had been categorised as a quota player all his life‚ when he was the best wing of his generation.
Dlulane said that if indeed it was found that the incident had anything to do with racial discrimination‚ as Willemse suggested‚ then "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 point of panel discussions.
"This incident better be about that‚ and that only," she said.
She called for restraint‚ saying that discussion should not be adversarial or be reduced to myopic‚ racial narratives.