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10 Jul 2018 13:08
'Because at the end of the day, it’s not a light matter. I see this in young people coming up to me saying ‘thank you for standing up for me’.' — Ashwin Willemse (Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)
Former Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse on Tuesday spoke publicly for the first time since walking off a live SuperSport set in May.
Willemse had accused fellow analysts Naas Botha and Nick Mallett of “patronising” and “undermining” him.
SuperSport’s subsequent investigation into the matter found no racism on the part of Botha or Mallett.
Willemse would not engage with SuperSport in the broadcaster’s own investigation into the incident and instead said he would take the matter to the equality court, insisting that racism was at the core of the stand-off.
On Tuesday, he was interviewed by Eusebius McKaiser of Radio702 where he explained his decision to remain silent on the matter up to this point.
“Firstly I attended the hearings. We clarified with the advocate, senior council (Vincent) Maleka, on exactly what this matter is and the terms of reference.
We weren’t comfortable with the terms of reference, we felt that it did not allow us to deal with everything we’d like them to deal with.
“It was voluntary, so we decided not to participate, we did indicate to him that this is not the appropriate forum.
Willemse insisted that it was a matter that needed to be dealt with.
“I want to make sure that I deal with this matter in the manner in which I have always intended to, which was appropriately. Because at the end of the day, it’s not a light matter. I see this in young people coming up to me saying ‘thank you for standing up for me’.
“So I understand what we’re dealing with here and I don’t want to use this as something frivolous. It’s legitimate pain. So my silence was a case of me allowing the process to unfold up until a point where we can deal with this matter in the appropriate manner in which I indicated right from the onset to SuperSport. And we’ve not been granted that opportunity as of yet.”
Willemse confirmed he was advised by his legal representatives to take the matter to the equality court.
“Upon reflection, I have indicated to my legal team that we should honour, and we will to that effect write to the human right commission that we would honour the submission that SuperSport has indicated that they would now send to the human right commission, based on the report and the findings of Advocate Maleka and that process… so we will honour that and participate in that process, ensuring we can deal with that matter because I will be allowed to go there and engage it at that appropriate forum. And in that process hopefully restore my dignity.”
He added that racism in society was a grey area.
“That grey… we all go through it, we all experience it…” — Sport 24
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