PRETORIA – Former Springbok flyhalf and SuperSport analyst Errol Tobias says the time has come for the pay television broadcaster to deal “decisively” with claims of racism after another racial storm involving the channel and black presenters came to light.
Tobias, the first black Springbok, also left SuperSport under a cloud after tension between him and some of his white counterparts.
“It is time for SuperSport to dig deep, put their dirty stuff on the table, go into discussions with all the role-players and find a permanent and constructive solution to these allegations,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that in a country that has changed, we are still sitting with a section of people that are used to getting things their way.
“What people don’t understand is that there are capable black guys out there who are making the best of their opportunities, and they don’t want to be held back.”
Yesterday, reports surfaced that four black SuperSport presenters – long-serving and popular anchor Xola Ntshinga, former Springbok hooker Owen Nkumane, former Cheetahs flank and Xhosa presenter and commentator Kaunda Ntunja, and former Springbok centre Gcobani Bobo – have accused SuperSport of race-based discrimination, with certain duties “reserved for non-white pundits”, and white contractors being paid more than their black counterparts, and are expected to do more work.
These allegations are part of a letter that has already been served to SuperSport by MVMT Attorneys, who are acting on behalf of the presenters, analysts and commentators.
Independent Media has it on good authority that the accusations of racism go beyond the quartet and involves most of the black and particularly black African analysts and commentators.
It is believed that at the heart of the accusations is how the black presenter, commentator and analyst issues have been ignored by the SuperSport executive producer for rugby, Thato Monale, and head of production Alvin Naicker, while also being paid far less than their white colleagues.
Furthermore, there are accusations that while white analysts have been handed hefty, long-term contracts with guaranteed pay, some of the black presenters and commentators are working without contracts.
Some are only given one-year contracts that are dependent on being paid for work done.
It is understood that the group is also calling out the broadcaster for the unequal treatment given to Xhosa commentary, with some rugby productions not having the vernacular option, while English and Afrikaans are being given preference.
SuperSport has taken note of the letter, according to SuperSport spokesperson Clinton van der Berg. “The matter is being thoroughly investigated. The investigation is almost complete. SuperSport will communicate directly with the individuals concerned.”
The letter comes hot on the heels of the conclusion of an internal investigation which cleared analysts Nick Mallett and Naas Botha of racism after their on-air altercation with former Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse.
But Willemse has insisted racism was at the root of the problem. While Willemse did not testify in the investigation, he is looking at taking the matter to the Equality Court.
SuperSport have allegedly threatened to dismiss him if he does, although the channel have denied such claims.