Ashwin Willemse still has a contract with SuperSport

SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane addresses the media on the outcomes of the investigation into alleged racist comments made towards Ashwin Willemse during a live studio broadcast.
SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane addresses the media on the outcomes of the investigation into alleged racist comments made towards Ashwin Willemse during a live studio broadcast.
Image: Masi Losi

SuperSport chief executive officer Gideon Khobane has insisted that Ashwin Willemse's contract with the broadcasting company has not been terminated even though the former Springbok winger did not participate in the Vincent Maleka-led inquiry into his studio walk-out last month.

The 36-year-old 2007 Rugby World Cup winning squad member walked out on his fellow panellists Naas Botha and Nick Mallett at the SuperSport Studios in Randburg after a Super Rugby game between the Lions and the Brumbies at Ellis Park on May 19.

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".

Willemse 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 Springbok 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.

"I think everybody here understands my stance and what we would like to see happen‚ but Willemse's contract is still standing and binding‚” Khobane said.

"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."

Mallett and Botha were cleared of racism allegations by the report and will resume their studio duties‚ but Khobane conceded that Maleka said the report was poorer without Willemse's inputs.

Willemse 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 because Ashwin did not participate.

"However‚ advocate Maleka worked with the evidence that was before him and the other external parties that he consulted with‚" Khobane said.

Multichoice chief executive officer Calvo Mawela said Willemse was not happy with the forum that was created to resolve the May 19 matter and therefore 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.

"He did not believe that the forum was the right one for him to participate in‚” Mawela said.

“From where we are sitting‚ Ashwin responded based on something that he saw in a particular day in time and he responded in the way that he responded.”

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