The Ashwin Willemse saga is a festering boil in desperate need of being lanced – report Rugby 365.
The latest developments – weekend newspaper reports that four more presenters accused SuperSport of racism – are symptomatic of the deeper putrefaction of the troubles at the pay-TV station.
According to reports, SuperSport presenters Owen Nkumane, Xola Ntshinga, Kaunda Ntunja and Gcobani Bobo have accused the broadcaster of racism, victimisation, pay disparity and intimidation.
This comes at a time when former Springbok Ashwin Willemse and his lawyer, Nqobizitha Mlilo, ramped up their battle with SuperSport over the former player’s decision to walk off set during a live broadcast back on May 19.
An initial inquiry into Willemse’s walkout stated that there was ‘no racism’ on the part of fellow presenters Nick Mallet and Naas Botha – ‘naked racism, subtle racism or otherwise’.
Willemse, who refused to participate in the review by Advocate Vincent Maleka because it was ‘not the right forum to air his view’, decided to go to the Equality Court – where he is planning to go head-to-head with SuperSport.
The additional charges brought by the four presenters – Nkumane, Ntshinga, Ntunja and Bobo – appears to add weight to Willemse’s argument.
Clinton van der Berg, Communications Manager at SuperSport, confirmed to rugby365 that they have received a letter from MVMT Attorneys, written on behalf of the four presenters.
“SuperSport has taken note of the letter,” Van der Berg said.
“The matter is being thoroughly investigated. The investigation is almost complete.
“SuperSport will communicate directly with the individuals concerned,” he concluded.
Willemse met with SuperSport management late last week, in the hope of reaching a compromise. However, they appear no closer to a ‘settlement’ and the presenter’s lawyer, Mlilo, indicated that there is no ‘common ground’.
Mlilo is demanding the release of a second report, allegedly prepared for the company. In an interview with public broadcaster eNCA, he said the meeting did not have a feeling of reconciliation.
“The meeting was almost meaningless,” Mlilo said in the interview.
The latest developments – including the letter from the four additional presenters, which arrived after Willemse indicated he was going to court – suggests there are many issues previously not brought into the public domain.
The letter further states that the presenters believe that certain roles are reserved for non-white presenters and that white contractors are paid more than black contractors.
They also suggest that these black contractors are expected to do more work.
They further stated that black presenters are subjected to victimisation, public humiliation, abusive language, intimidation and other inappropriate behaviour from management.
SuperSport’s media statements that there is ‘no racism’ and Willemse’s claims that the whole incident is ‘rooted in racism’ will take centre stage when the entire saga plays itself out in court.
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