The South African Sports Star of the Year nomination is an all female line-up for the first time since this top award was launched and this is an indication of how competitive the SA female athletes have been at international level this year.

Included in the nominations are: Banyana Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana who scored a cracker at the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Spain, Netball World Cup player of the year Karla Pretorius and Tatjana Schoenmaker – the first ever SA woman to win a medal at the FINA World Championships.

Minster of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa is looking forward to the first Sports Awards under his wing, set to be held in Durban on the 10th of next month.

Meanwhile, Mthethwa has also finally broken his silence on the alleged racial attack case involving Springbok rugby player Eben Etzebeth, saying he’s innocent until proven guilty.

Etzebeth, together with a group of friends are under investigation by the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the police for allegedly assaulting and racially abusing people in Langebaan in the Western Cape. Mthethwa says they will not tolerate racism in the country.

Etzebeth’s selection to be part of the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup currently in Japan has been widely questioned but Mthethwa says they can’t interfere in selection.

Etzebeth has featured in all the four matches for the Springboks at the World Cup so far and is expected to also play in the quarterfinals. Mthethwa is urging the nation to continue supporting the Boks despite the division caused by the Boks lock’s case.

Millions of rugby fans in the country are unfortunately missing out on watching the Springboks at the World Cup on TV with the tournament only accessible to the premium pay TV subscribers.

Mthethwa says this is a matter of concern but also talks to the difficulties of accessing sports rights. Report by Velile Mnyandu