SuperSport has confirmed that it is investigating Saturday’s incident where analyst and former rugby player, Ashwin Willemse, walked off set while live on-air, saying that he will not be undermined by the panel, former rugby stars, Nick Mallet and Naas Botha.
SuperSport, a South African group of television channels that provides sports content, stated in a tweet that it views the incident in a serious light.
“We will conduct a full investigation and interview all relevant individuals.”
The former Lions and Springbok wing, along with his panel, was conducting a live analysis on Saturday’s rugby game between Brumbies and the Lions at Ellis Park Stadium.
While no clarity has been given about what led to the on-air walk-off, Willemse is heard telling the panel that he has earned respect in the game.
“As a player, I was labelled a quota player for a long time and I have worked hard to earn my own respect in this game, so I am not going to be patronized by two individuals who have played in an apartheid, a segregated era, and come and undermine [other people].”
Prior to Willemse’s walk-off, he can be heard asking Botha for his analysis of the game.
“Naas, what do you think about it, don’t you think it was a good game – what’s your view?”
To which Botha replies: “I’ve used all the time before the game, it’s all your time [now]!”
Willemse quickly interrupts, saying:
“I think we are not going to patronize each other here.”
The interview continues with Mallet and Naas’ analysis, which was followed by Willemse’s walk-off.[Footage: Lui Spot]
The incident has since spurred discussion around the issue of race within South African rugby.
I think it’s about perception. We can say “Well Naas was just having a laugh..” but reality is #AshwinWillemse’s perception was not that of a joke but of condescension.
— Wendy in Cape Town (@WendCT) May 20, 2018
It's always people of colour that have to explain racism to white people. #AshwinWillemse
— Hank Pym(p) (@PixelGab86) May 20, 2018
ASHWIN WILLEMSE WALKS OFF SUPERSPORT SET AFTER FALLOUT WITH NICK MALLET AND NAAS BOTHA!GO ASHWIN! ✊️✊️RESPECT! You…
You are going to need the recording of Ashwin Willemse's entire LIFE to understand what happened…
— Suren Govender (@suren_govender) May 20, 2018
But, there were those who called for Willemse to be removed from anchoring the show.
Really hope Supersport do the right thing and give him the Boots and All!! #AshwinWillemse
— Ruan van Burick (@RuanvanBurick) May 19, 2018