Ashwin Willemse said he felt patronised by Nick Mallett and Naas Botha. Photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

CAPE TOWN – Former Springbok fullback Gio Aplon says he “salutes” Ashwin Willemse for standing up to be treated “fairly and equally by his counterparts” after he walked off a live SuperSport broadcast on Saturday night.

Aplon was one of a number of prominent South Africans who took to Twitter to express their support for ex-Bok wing Willemse, who said that he was “not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid”, referring to Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, who were Springboks in the 1980s.

“I believe all @Ashwinwillemse wanted was to be treated fairly and equally by his counterparts,nothing more,nothing less..and for standing up for that I salute him..#wasntaboutrace” Aplon tweeted on Sunday.

Advocate Dali Mpofu – who is fondly remembered in the SA sporting fraternity for representing Proteas bowler Kagiso Rabada in a recent disciplinary hearing that resulted in a two-match being overturned – also backed Willemse.

“My man Ash! Making us proud! ANY game. played on top of OUR land belongs to US! No compromise...No retreat! #AshwinWillemse” Mpofu tweeted.

More reactions from Twitter:

Thando Manana (former Springbok player):

It was always going to happen on Live television. Ashwin Willemse i am so glad you finally put Nick Mallet and Naas Botha in their Place.

Omphile Ramela (Highveld Lions cricketer)

#AshwinWillemse showed that being undermined is a process, much like pouring water into a cup, at some point the cup will overflow. It necessarily follows that your can’t predict/control the direction of the overflow.

The real litmus test will be how @SuperSportTV handles the #AshwinWillemse saga. It will either easy or execerbate race relations. @MotshidisiM will be an instrumental witness.

Jonathan Jansen (Stellenbosch University distinguished professor of education):

Super Sport had better come up with a damn good explanation for what caused Ashwin Willemse to snap. He is the most gentle and generous human being I have met and something happened, off-air, that caused him to confront Naas and Nick as patronising bigots. Super Sport, start speaking.....

Vusi Thembekwayo (business speaker):

Dear white South Africans (and Yes, I know it’s not ALL but some), open your eyes. We are a ticking time bomb & the paternalistic condescending tone of superiority must end now. Good on you @Ashwinwillemse for standing in your TRUTH. #ItsEnough

The real tragedy is that it won’t take @SuperSportTV effort or inconvenience to find a pliable black face to replace #AshwinWillemse. We must focus our attention equally on those that ascend off the back of “coonery”. An injury to one, is an injury to all.

Bongani Bingwa (TV and radio presenter):

Poor Ashwin. It's going to be said he overreacted. But the truth is there isn't always explicit evidence when you feel undermined, it’s a feeling, a vibe that you get. And then there’s the matter of proving it. YOU have to justify your reaction to it. #AshwinWillemse

Chad Saaiman (musician):

A gentleman, who always shows respect did what most wouldn’t do in that scenario: stood up for himself & without knowing it in the moment, stood up for many more Respect bro @Ashwinwillemse #AshwinWillemse

Doreen Morris (businesswoman, former TV presenter):

I do not know what led to #AshwinWillemse's walkout on @SupersportTV but I believe that this has been a long time coming; that he stood up for himself in a dignified manner; that there is nothing unprofessional about walking out when circumstances become untenable.

Thomas Gumede (actor):

Shout out to #AshwinWillemse for standing up for himself and inspiring the rest of the people of color to stand up for what is right in OUR COUNTRY #AlutaContinua

Echbert Boezak (TV and radio presenter):

What happened last night is a reminder to what people experience everyday. It happens in workplaces, corporate South Africa and the media. You are never “accepted” but “tolerated” #Ashwinwillemse

If you had any doubts about whether the Rainbow Nation still existed, have a look at the divisive #AshwinWillemse tweets

Soli Philander (actor, comedian, radio and TV presenter):

I'm sorry racists - accusing anyone of playing the race card doesnt automatically make you not a racist Actually I'm not sorry #AshwinWillemse

Zelda la Grange (former PA to Nelson Mandela):

I'm so incredibly sorry @Ashwinwillemse Wish I could give you a hug now. Stay strong! #AshwinWillemse

Chester Missing (comedic puppet):

When a person of colour speaks out like Ashwin Willemse just did about how our history has shaped their lives the only legitimate response from white SA, as far as this puppet is concerned, is to listen and reflect deeply before responding.

Khaya Dlanga (writer):

What Ashwin Willemse addressed is something many people of colour experience. It’s a subtle undermining and condescending approach that is difficult to prove, but you know it when you experience it. Then you’re accused of ‘having a chip on your shoulder.’

Wayne Parnell (Proteas cricketer):

Good thing it was on live tv otherwise ‘patronize’ wouldn’t be the only P word used. Good for Ash for standing up for himself. He has earned all his credentials.

Tonderai Chavhanga (former Springbok player):

Ashwin Willemse is an upstanding role model. People must not jump to conclusions before knowing why he reacted the way he did.



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