SuperSport CEO reaches out to Ashwin Willemse after report clears Mallett and Botha
SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane has insisted that Ashwin Willemse’s contract with the broadcaster has not been terminated even though the former Springbok winger did not participate in the Vincent Maleka-led inquiry.
Willemse, a member of the squad that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, walked out on fellow panellists Naas Botha and Nick Mallett at the SuperSport studios in Randburg after a Super Rugby game on May 19.
In his report, Maleka cleared Mallett and Botha of racism allegations and they will resume their studio duties.
But Khobane conceded that Maleka said the report was poorer without Willemse’s input. He was given an opportunity to participate in the inquiry.
"Because Ashwin did not participate‚ the report did not have the comprehensive view of everyone who was involved," Khobane said. "However‚ advocate Maleka worked with the evidence that was before him and the other external parties that he consulted with."
MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said Willemse was not happy with the forum created to resolve the matter and decided not to take part in the inquiry.
"What comes out very clear is that Mr Willemse said he could not participate because he was not sure if the forum was the right one for evaluating the issues he wanted to ventilate.
"From where we are sitting‚ Ashwin responded based on something that he saw on a particular day and he responded in the way that he responded," Mawela said.
Willemse‚ who represented the Springboks in 19 Tests between 2003 and 2007‚ spoke of being labelled a "quota player" and refused to be "patronised by two individuals who played in an apartheid/segregated era".
He went on to say he "can’t work with people who undermine other people" and that he was "glad it happened on live TV so that people can see".
Mallett‚ who coached the Springboks between 1997 and 2000‚ played two Tests for the Springboks in 1984 while Botha’s 28 Tests were between 1980 and 1992.
"Ashwin has a contract with SuperSport‚" said Khobane.
"It hasn’t been terminated and neither has he terminated his contract. Based on our next engagement with him‚ that will determine where we go.
"In the spirit of reconciliation‚ I will make another attempt to reach out to Ashwin for us to find a mutually acceptable way forward so that he knows this matter has been fairly investigated."