On Tuesday, SuperSport released the findings of the independent review that took looked at the on-air incident between Ashwin Willemse, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha. According to the report, no racism, in any form, was involved.
The investigation was carried out by an Independent Advocate who conduced multiple interviews with Mallet, Botha, the anchor on the day as well the SuperSport Rugby crew.
The report ended up being over 50 pages long but does not contain any testimony from Willemse himself.
Willemse declined to partake in the investigation but has hinted that he may yet speak publically in the coming days.
That the conduct of Naas and Nick during the off-air conversation with Ashwin and during the live studio broadcast of the post-match commentary of the match “does not manifest naked racism and was not motivated by racist considerations”.
Assisted by Wits University Vice Chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, Advocate Maleka SC also found that there was also no evidence of Naas or Nick exhibiting either intended or unintended subtle racism.
The incident cannot be explained on the basis of the suggestion or suspicion that Ashwin was, for the most part, not present in the studio when the second half of the rugby match was televised.
There are two factors which provide a reasonable explanation for the incident. The first is the (mistaken) technical assumption that there was enough time for all the analyst to express their pre-match analysis or commentary of the Lions/Brumbies rugby match. However, the switch to the live broadcast happened sooner than anticipated.
Consequently, there was no time for Ashwin to express his views. The panel then agreed, off-air, that Ashwin would be given the first opportunity to speak after the game. The second is that it is reasonable to assume that Ashwin may have regarded the common stance adopted by Nick and Naas as patronising when they insisted that he should thereafter speak first.
The report made multiple recommendations, all of which SuperSport has agreed to implement. All parties involved will now receive counselling and the report will be referred to the SA Human Rights Commission.