CAPE TOWN – MultiChoice South Africa chief executive Calvo Mawela says that Monday’s meeting between Ashwin Willemse, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha was courteous, and that there “is no racism that we picked up from any of the discussions that we have had”.
Mawela and SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane met with the three rugby analysts on Monday after former Springbok wing Willemse walked off set during a live broadcast on Saturday night, where he said he was “not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid”, referring to Mallett and Botha, who were Springboks in the 1980s.
While the investigation is still ongoing, Mawela told the media on Monday evening at the MultiChoice headquarters in Randburg: “They were courteous to each other, they shook hands, they openly chatted.
“So, there’s no animosity that exists between the three of them – from what we have seen today. They kept on talking to each other like mature people, and that we think is a positive step in terms of the engagement that we are having.
“But we have not come to any conclusions at this stage. We all agreed that we will continue the engagements going forward. We can’t say when it will be concluded.
“From the observation of today’s discussions, there is no racism that we picked up from any of the discussions that we have had.
“As far as we are concerned, it’s people who got into some discussions of some sort, and we are still digging deeper to find out what really happened and led to this type of action, because nobody walks off stage just for the sake of walking off stage.
“There must be something deeper, and we are engaging with all parties to get to the bottom of this.”
While Mallett was spotted leaving the MultiChoice building before the press briefing, SuperSport International chief executive Gideon Khobane said the former Springbok coach “had a flight to catch” to Cape Town, where he lives, for an unrelated appointment on Tuesday.
Khobane reiterated Mawela’s view that discussions were still ongoing and that “no job is on the line until we come to the conclusion of the investigation”.
He added that SuperSport were also speaking to the Sports Ministry, after Minister Tokozile Xasa called for Mallett and Botha to be suspended while the investigation was conducted.
Calvo Mawela, CEO of Multichoice, and Gideon Khobane, CEO OF Supersport, brief media on today's discussions with #AshwinWillemse, Naas Botha and Nick Mallett following Saturday's studio #walkout. @IOLsport @IOL pic.twitter.com/Bi7wCgZCtX
“We’ve got a relationship with the Ministry of Sports, and we are engaging with them as we speak. But we don’t want our engagements to be, with respect, through the media or social media,” Khobane said.
“We will speak directly with them. But they have engaged us and we are engaging with them.”
* This story has been updated.