CAPE TOWN, July 10 – Former Springbok rugby player Ashwin Willemse on Tuesday said he will wait for a SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) hearing to air his “legitimate pain”.
Speaking on talk radio 702 and Cape Talk, Willemse briefly touched on his decision not to participate in a mediation process by SuperSport which cleared Willemse’s fellow presenters Nick Mallett and Naas Botha of racism. Willemse said this was not the appropriate forum to deal with the matter, but said he would participate in a HRC process
“We participate in that process…go there and engage in that particular process and hopefully restore my dignity,” he said.
Willemse said he “reached out” to both Mallett and Botha after realizing what effect the debacle has had on his own family.
“I reached out based on the premise of reconciliation and it is in that same spirit which I would engage all parties involved, including the employer SuperSport,” he said.
“There are no doors that are closed. We are talking here about restoration and…an environment where people’s equality, human rights can be respected.”
In May, Willemse stormed off the SuperSport set following the Lions’ Super Rugby win over the Brumbies at Ellis Park after an apparent disagreement with fellow panelists Mallett and Botha.
It remains unclear what preceded the incident, but Willemse voiced his grievances with Botha and Mallett live on air before walking off the set.
“I played this game for a long time, like all of us here. As a player, I was labeled a quota player for a long time. I’ve worked hard to earn my respect in this game, so I’m not going to be patronized by two players who played in Apartheid – a segregated era – who come and want to undermine me,” Willemse said.
“I can’t work with people who undermine other people. So you [Botha and Mallet] can sit and laugh about it, but you know exactly what happened. I don’t mind, I’m glad it happened so people can see because you two sit here …” said the 36-year-old former Springbok who promptly walked off the set.
– African News Agency (ANA)