Sports Minister calls for Mallett and Botha to be suspended after Willemse studio exit

20 May 2018 - 13:07 By Ernest Mabuza
Ashwin Willemse.
Ashwin Willemse.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

Sports and Recreation Minister Toko Xasa on Sunday called on SuperSport to suspend Nick Mallett and Naas Botha while it is investigating an incident which led to former Springbok player Ashwin Willemse walking out of a studio during a live broadcast.

“The continued appearance of Mallett and Botha will be seen as an endorsement of their alleged racist behaviour‚” Xasa said.

Willemse walked off set following comments apparently made by fellow presenters Mallett and Botha.

Mallett is a former Springbok player and coach and Botha is a former Springbok captain and flyhalf.

The incident happened following the Lions’ 42-24 win over the Brumbies at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

In a statement‚ Xasa also condemned the continued behaviour of white entitlement in the sport of rugby.

“This behaviour of entitlement by some white South Africans who continue to think that their whiteness represent better must come to an end. If it was not for a barbaric nonsensical apartheid system that privileged them we could not have implemented [a] quota system to normalise an otherwise abnormal system.”

She said Willemse was not just a former Springbok player but in 2003 he was named SA Rugby Player of the Year‚ young player of the year and the player’s player of the year.

“Players like Willemse‚ (Bryan) Habana‚ (Siya) Kolisi continue to make us proud as a nation and affirm that they are not token players or quota players,” Xasa said.

She said the department noted that the quota system had been largely unsuccessful in bringing about an effectively transformed sport system and this caused substantial damage for many black players who were labelled as “tokens”.

“It is clear that Ashwin Willemse was referred [to] as a quota player by his fellow panelist despite his many successes in the field of play.”