HRC to probe racism at SuperSport in wake of Ashwin Willemse debacle

Ashwin Willemse.
Ashwin Willemse.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The SA Human Rights Commission will conduct a formal and public inquiry into allegations of racism at SuperSport, and will investigate the circumstances that led to former Springbok Ashwin Willemse walking off a set during a live broadcast earlier this year.

The terms of reference for the inquiry, in February next year, include an evaluation of the circumstances that led to Willemse’s incident with fellow SuperSport analysts Naas Botha and Nick Mallett during which he walked off set.

It will also examine "whether those facts demonstrate that his dignity or any other fundamental rights were infringed".

The inquiry will also seek to establish:

  • whether, and to what extent, Mr Willemse was exposed or subjected to unfair racial discrimination or harassment on or before May 19 2018 and thereafter during the performance of his duties as an analyst at SuperSport;
  • whether SuperSport has appropriately dealt with the allegations of unfair racial discrimination made by Mr Willemse;
  • whether SuperSport, by act or omission, enabled an environment which was conducive to the creation of tension, disunity and unfair racial discrimination among employees and/or independent contractors on one hand and between employees and/or independent contractors and SuperSport on the other hand;
  • whether SuperSport employed sufficient safeguards and measures to prevent the occurrence of race-based unfair discrimination and to promote equality in its workplace; and
  • whether SuperSport has received complaints relating to unfair discrimination on the basis of race in its workplace. If so, whether SuperSport responded appropriately to address such allegations and what were the outcomes in respect of each complaint, if any.

The HRC states in its terms of reference for the inquiry that the process will "be presided over by panellists who will ask questions to the witnesses and proceedings will be recorded".

"The commission will receive both written and oral submissions from SuperSport and other interested parties," it said.

This means that the hearing may not be confined to just the evidence of Willemse, Botha and Mallett, but may include testimony from parties who believe they have an interest in the issue.

The inquiry is expected to start on February 25 and be completed by the end of June.

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