Premature conviction of Mallett and Botha the result of ‘anti-white’ sentiment – AfriForum

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel.
AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel.
Image: Deaan Vivier/Gallo Images

The civil rights organisation AfriForum has criticised what it calls the premature “conviction” of Nick Mallett and Naas Botha following the walk-out of Ashwin Willemse during a live SuperSport rugby broadcast on Saturday – blaming it on “anti-white” sentiment.

Willemse‚ a former Springbok‚ stormed off the set after an apparent disagreement with his co-presenters‚ Botha and Mallett‚ saying he would not be patronised by two individuals who had played in the apartheid era.

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

He added that AfriForum believed in a society where mutual recognition and respect between communities were promoted.

“Yesterday evening’s incident‚ however‚ can only exacerbate racial polarisation.”

He said it was “especially worrisome” that Minister of Sport Tokozile 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.

Sports minister Tokozile Xasa on Sunday called on SuperSport to suspend Mallett and Botha while it investigates the incident‚ saying their continued appearance would be “be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour”.

Xasa also condemned what she referred to as the continued behaviour of white entitlement in 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 could not have implemented [a] quota system to normalise an otherwise abnormal system‚" said Xasa.

"Willemse is 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 and (Siya) Kolisi continue to make us proud as a nation and affirm that they are not token players or quota players‚” she added.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane tweeted on Sunday: “What @Ashwinwillemse experienced yesterday is still sadly an experience for too many South Africans. We must build an equal society‚ where we confine to history a system of racial superiority and inferiority. We must continue to pursue a Diverse SA however difficult it is.”

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