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Willemse heads to Equality Court after inquiry clears Botha‚ Mallett of racism

20 June 2018 - 11:15 By Ernest Mabuza
Ashwin Willemse during a Super Rugby event at SuperSport studios on February 22, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ashwin Willemse during a Super Rugby event at SuperSport studios on February 22, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Television sport commentator Ashwin Willemse will approach the Equality Court for relief following findings from an independent inquiry which cleared colleagues Nick Mallett and Naas Botha of racism‚ his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Willemse walked off the SuperSport set last month following comments apparently made by his fellow presenters‚ complaining he felt patronised.

SuperSport pulled the three presenters off air while the independent mediator‚ Vincent Maleka‚ SC‚ looked at the issue.

“We are finalising the formulation of the relief. The report by Adv Maleka SC is irredeemably flawed both conceptually‚ and on application of basic principles of law‚” Willemse’s attorney Nqobizitha Mlilo said.

He said Willemse maintained that this issue was deeply rooted in racism.

“This is a culmination of a number of incidents.”

Mlilo said Willemse had declined the opportunity to participate in the inquiry because he believed the inquiry had a predetermined outcome.

“We expressed a view to Adv Maleka SC that he (Adv Maleka SC) was being used to sanitise and chlorinate failures by SuperSport to deal with a number of reported incidents of racism by the gentlemen in question‚” Mlilo said.

At Maleka’s suggestion‚ made public when he released his findings on Tuesday‚ SuperSport will also refer the report to the South African Human Rights Commission “for final resolution”.

It was revealed on Tuesday that in a letter sent to Maleka by Willemse's lawyers‚ the former top rugby player was adamant that “racism was the cause of the incident and the narrative perpetuated by SuperSport that there was no racism reinforces his view and infringed his human rights and dignity”.

“They specifically reserve Willemse’s right to redress that infringement in an appropriate forum‚” Maleka said in his report.

SuperSport said on Tuesday that Mallett and Botha would resume work in due course. It also stated that Willemse’s contract was still valid and that they would reach out to him to try understand his point of view.