Pay channel SuperSport says according to their preliminary findings, the Ashwin Willemse incident on Saturday night was not racially motivated.
The CEO’s of Multichoice and SuperSport spoke to the media at their Randburg headquarters on Monday evening.
Willemse, a former Springbok wing and SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2003, walked out of the live studio during the discussion on a Super Rugby match, complaining that he’d been labelled as a quota player for his whole career.
Willemse said his fellow panellists – Nick Mallett and Naas Botha – two apartheid-era Springboks were condescending towards him.
SuperSport has emphasised that the investigation, including Willemse, Botha and Mallet and all the production staff involved, is still under way.
MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela says they will work to find out what actually happened. “From the observation of today’s discussion there is no racism that we picked up,. We do not see it anywhere as far as we are concerned. It’s people that got into some discussion of some sort, but we are still digging deeper to get into the underneath to see what really happened, because nobody just walks off stage,” Mawela explained.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby has issued a carefully worded statement following the incident on Saturday evening. SA Rugby said it’s surprised and concerned as the rest of the rugby community by the incident.
It continued saying it would not be fair to make snap judgements. However, something was clearly amiss and it reflected poorly on rugby.