Ashwin Willemse reached his “breaking point” and that’s apparently why he sensationally walked off set during the now infamous live rugby broadcast earlier this year.
In an interview with TimesLIVE, the former Springbok wing reaffirms that fellow SuperSport colleagues Nick Mallett and Naas Botha’s “conduct” was the main factor in “the camel’s back (being) broken” and that he wants next year’s public inquiry by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to provide the platform from him to explain himself.
“They infringed my dignity and that’s what I am going to argue,” he told the website.
However, it seems that Willemse’s bigger gripe is the email Mallett sent to a SuperSport producer in 2016, wherein the former Springbok coach requests for his and Willemse’s work shifts to be separated, and alleges that Willemse “talks garbage”.
This communication emerged in the independent investigation carried out by advocate Vincent Maleka at the behest of the broadcaster. Maleka concluded there was no overt racism present.
In the correspondence, Mallett wrote: “I really enjoy working with Bobs (Gcobani Bobo) and Xola (Ntshinga). They are a real pleasure … Xola asks very good questions and Bobs knows enough about rugby to produce interesting clips for discussion.
“Unlike with the complex Ashwin, there are no agendas. It would be great if Ashwin could be moved … where we don’t have to work together. I think he talks garbage, we irritate the hell out of each other, and the working environment is just unpleasant and tense.”
Willemse believes Mallett lacked integrity in not raising the issue in person with him.
“If you’re going to feel that way about a person, have the backbone to say it. Having a backbone would mean I could come to you and say: ‘Ashwin, I no longer want to work with you’,” he said.
“It was just confirming what I always thought to be the case, but never had evidence to prove.
“When I read Vincent Maleka’s report, I was surprised by the view that was held, particularly as it was stated in the report. But what shocked me was the communication that was had at the time in 2016; now we’re in 2018 and I’m wondering: so what has been happening without my knowledge, about me, at work, at SuperSport, and yet I see these beautiful smiles in front of me all day?”
The inquiry is scheduled to commence on February 25.