/ 22 May 2018

MultiChoice CEO: ‘There is no animosity’ between Willemse, Mallett, Botha

Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios.
Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios.

SuperSport and MultiChoice have said they believed there was “no racism” at play or animosity between Ashwin Willemse, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett after being locked in “robust discussions” for most of Monday.

This came after Willemse walked off live TV on the weekend stating that he won’t be “patronised by two individuals who played in an apartheid, segregated era”.

After being locked in “robust discussions” for most of the day, SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane and MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela gave a brief, sanitised update of the discussions.

“What is encouraging with the discussions we’ve had is that Nick (Mallett), Naas (Botha), and also Ashwin (Willemse), were part of the discussions, they were all in the same room, they were courteous to each other, they shook hands, they openly [chatted]. There is no animosity that exists between the three of them from what we could see today,” Mawela said.

READ MORE: SARU SACOS Legends slam ‘smugness of Naas and Nick’

“From the observations from today’s discussions, there is no racism that we pick from any of the discussion that we’ve had,” he said.

“So as far as we’re concerned it’s people that got in some discussion of sort, but we are still digging deeper into what really happened and transpired because nobody walks off stage just for the sake of walking off stage.”

He said the parties all agreed that discussions should continue.

About an hour earlier, Mallett was seen leaving the building while the discussions were still ongoing.

Khobane said they did not intend on sweeping anything under the carpet and would instead deal with the issue fairly.

“This has become a national issue. We at SuperSport and MultiChoice treat this issue with all the seriousness it deserves,” he said.

READ MORE: MultiChoice CEO promises ‘appropriate action’ in Willemse walk-out

“We’ve had very robust discussions today from 7 o’clock this morning with all the role-players involved … And where we are currently is we recognise that we need further engagements,” he said.

“We don’t want to sweep things under the carpet and we don’t think things should be rushed for the sake of convenience. We do recognise that we require to act with expediency.”

He said they wanted to ensure the process was handled with fairness to all the parties and for that reason couldn’t “divulge” more from the meetings.

“What we’ve always encouraged on the platform is for all our panellists to engage in robust debate, they don’t have to agree, that’s the point of having three or four different panellists on the same panel, to get a divergence of different views,” Khobane said.

“However, there obviously is an issue that we’re trying to unpack and as Calvo said we don’t think it is a racially motivated issue, because if it were then it would be easier to come to a solution, because as a business, as a country we don’t stand for any prejudice of any kind.” — News24