Super Rugby

Cosatu to boycott SuperSport over Willemse saga


Cape Town - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday said its leaders will be boycotting pay-station SuperSport in light of the Ashwin Willemse saga.

Willemse famously walked off a live broadcast on May 19 this year, upset at the fact he believed his fellow analysts - Nick Mallett and Naas Botha - "patronised" him.

The incident stunned the sporting community not only in South Africa, but around the world.

SuperSport was quick to confirm that an independent review into the incident would take place under the expert guidance of Advocate Vincent Maleka SC.

However, Willemse refused to partake in the review, believing it was not the right forum to express his viewpoint.

After a week's delay in announcing his findings, Maleka found no racism had been directed at Willemse by Mallett or Botha, and expressed regret that Willemse refrained from taking part in the investigation.

In a letter following the release of the findings, Willemse’s attorneys maintained “that the May 19 incident was rooted in racism”.

Willemse’s attorneys made it clear that “he persists with his view that racism was the cause of the incident and the narrative perpetuated by SuperSport that there was no racism reinforces his view and infringed his human rights and dignity”.

Willemse's legal team on Thursday confirmed that they would be taking SuperSport to South Africa's Equality Court.

In a press statement on Thursday Cosatu weighed into the issue, saying:

The report by SuperSport on the Ashwin Willemse issue is a whitewash to cover up the racism still operating in the old white company. Cosatu rejects the report on the basis that it did not consider the letter from Willemse's attorneys carefully enough; neither did it adequately consider the letter from Mallett to Scott Seward. This letter reveals the 'baas-skap' (boss mentality) mentality of Mallett and how he is led to believe that he can decide which black presenters he works with.

Mallett is a racist who has displayed his attitude in many subtle ways, and this support from SuperSport to him is unacceptable. Mallett and Naas should not be allowed back into SuperSport; otherwise Cosatu will consider a full scale boycott of SuperSport. Mallett's 'baas-skap' mentality leads him to have difficulty when a black presenter questions his attempts to use his position to try and talk white players into the Springbok team.

The statement went on to state that there were many other problems with SuperSport and DSTV.

- DSTV has a monopoly that must be ended by the Competition Commission, as it is an old apartheid company controlled by the Stellenbosch mafia.

- SuperSport has worked with SARU to sell the rights to our national sport and deny South Africans access to the international Test series live on SABC.

- SuperSport has allowed the prevalence of whites in the studio to be completely removed from any employment equity provisions.

The statement concluded by saying that Cosatu's Western Cape regional secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, will personally be ending his DSTV subscription for this "outrageous conduct by DSTV" and the "subtle racism promoted by DSTV and SuperSport".

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