SAHRC to investigate racism at SuperSport in wake of Willemse saga

Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios, Multichoice City on February 22, 2017 in Johannesburg. Picture: Gallo Images

Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios, Multichoice City on February 22, 2017 in Johannesburg. Picture: Gallo Images

The former Springbok caused a stir earlier this year when he walked out during a live broadcast alleging he was being undermined.

SuperSport won’t be let off the hook just yet for the Ashwin Willemse saga.

According to TimesLive, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will be investigating the circumstances surrounding the former Springbok winger’s sensational walkout during a live rugby broadcast in May after he alleged on-air that he was being undermined by fellow pundits Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

The inquiry will be public.

The terms of reference won’t be confined to the incident, but also whether Willemse’s “dignity and any other rights have been infringed”.

SuperSport were criticised for their own independent investigation into the matter by advocate Vincent Maleka, who admitted that his final report was flawed because Willemse chose not to provide input.

Maleka did, however, clear Mallett and Botha of racism and recommended that the matter be referred to the SAHRC.

The inquiry will also seek to determine various other dimensions to the issue such as whether SuperSport dealt “appropriately” with Willemse’s allegations; whether the broadcaster has possibly cultivated an environment of racial tension and how employees are safeguarded against discrimination; and whether similar incidents have occurred previously.

“[The inquiry will] be presided over by panellists who will ask questions to the witnesses and proceedings will be recorded,” the SAHRC stated in the terms of reference.

“The commission will receive both written and oral submissions from SuperSport and other interested parties.”

Notably, the inquiry – which will be on February 25, 2019, and is scheduled to conclude in June – will also consider testimony from any party who believes it can provide input relevant to the matter.

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