Sat, 23 Mar 2019

Cape Town - Former Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse says he was shocked to learn of an email sent by Nick Mallett to SuperSport's executive producer Scott Seward.

Details of Mallett's email, which was sent in October 2016, emerged after a report was compiled by Advocate Vincent Maleka into allegations of racism at the pay-channel.

It followed Willemse's sensational TV walkout in May this year when he accused fellow analysts Mallett and Naas Botha of "patronising" and "undermining" him.

In an interview with TimesLIVE, Willemse said of Mallett's email: "If you're going to feel that way about a person, have the backbone to say it. Having a backbone would mean I could come to you and say: 'Ashwin, I no longer want to work with you.' It was just confirming what I always thought to be the case, but never had evidence to prove."

Mallett's email read: "I really enjoy working with Bobs (Gcobani Bobo) and Xola (Ntshinga), Scott. They are a real pleasure... Xola asks very good questions and Bobs knows enough about rugby to produce interesting clips for discussion.

"Unlike with the complex Ashwin, there are no agendas. It would be great if Ashwin could be moved... where we don't have to work together. I think he talks garbage, we irritate the hell out of each other and the working environment is just unpleasant and tense."

SuperSport's investigation into the matter found no racism on the part of Botha or Mallett. Willemse, however, opted not to participate in the investigation.

Instead, he took the matter to the South African Human Rights Commination (SAHRC), who earlier this week confirmed that they would conduct a formal and public inquiry into allegations of racism at SuperSport.

Willemse remains adamant that Mallett and Botha infringed his dignity.

"I reached a breaking point. The camel's back was broken," he added in the interview.

Earlier this week, Willemse said he was confident that the commission would find in his favour.

"I'm very confident in the Human Rights Commission... it's an institution that is wholly responsible for the custodianship of human rights and human rights-related violations and issues... the promotion thereof within South Africa and the democratic dispensation of South Africa..." he told eNCA.

He added: "My confidence stems not from necessarily my position or the situation but it stems from the foundation of our liberation as a democratic, non-sexist, non-racist society equal in opportunities for all South Africans... our constitution is regarded as one of the best constitutions in the world."

SuperSport, meanwhile, has agreed to cooperate in the SAHRC's inquiry into alleged racism at the broadcaster.

MultiChoice's Group Executive for Corporate Affairs, Joe Heshu, told Sport24 via email on Wednesday:

"SuperSport has cooperated fully with the SA Human Rights Commission since the broadcaster referred the Ashwin Willemse matter to the Commission.

"This followed the completion of an independent investigation instituted by SuperSport and conducted by Advocate Vincent Maleka SC into the circumstances surrounding the former presenter walking off the set of a live broadcast.

"Adv Maleka SC found that the walk-off was not the result of racism. He recommended that the matter be referred to the Commission.

"SuperSport will participate fully in the enquiry to be conducted by the Commission and maintains its firm view that racism did not play a role in this matter."

The inquiry starts in February next year and is expected to run up until the end of June.

Note: Ashwin Willemse has repeatedly ignored Sport24's requests for comment on the matter

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