CAPE TOWN - Despite Ashwin Willemse’s walkout on Saturday night, MultiChoice chief executive Calvo Mawela insists that the former Springbok wing is prepared to work with Nick Mallett and Naas Botha going forward.
That development came following discussions held on Monday at the company’s headquarters in Randburg.
Willemse voiced his unhappiness towards Mallett and Botha following the Super Rugby match between the Lions and Brumbies, saying that he was “not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid”, and proceeded to walk off set during the live broadcast.
MultiChoice boss Mawela and SuperSport International chief executive Gideon Khobane held meetings with the trio, as well as presenter Motshidisi Mohono, director Anthony Banks and producer Mandla Ntsibande, which Mawela said “was courteous” and that the analysts shook hands.
And while the investigation into the matter continues, Mawela said on Monday evening that Willemse, Mallett and Botha will remain on air.
“We don’t know when it (the investigation) will be concluded. We didn’t pick up that they are people who can’t work together. I think they will continue to work together and they are prepared to work together,” Mawela said.
“So, there are some positive elements, but we want to get to the bottom of it to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“From today’s discussions, it is very clear that they (will) continue to work together. Everybody is prepared to talk with each other.”
Khobane echoed Mawela’s sentiments, adding that the trio “don’t have to agree” about their rugby views.
“What we’ve always encouraged on our platforms is for all our panellists to engage in robust debate – they don’t have to agree. That’s the point of having three or four different panellists, to get divergent, different views,” Khobane said.
“However, there obviously is an issue that we are trying to unpack, and we don’t think it is a racially motivated issue – because if it were, it would’ve been easier to come to a solution because as a business, as a country, we don’t stand for any kind of prejudice of any kind whatsoever.
“All three need a bit of time to reflect on what happened. You can imagine that the past 48 hours for them has been a crazy whirlwind – they haven’t been able to sleep, eat and engage with their families.
“It is still business as usual in a lot of ways for us, because we still have to do productions. We are not casting any sort of aspersions on anybody to say ‘This person is right, this person is wrong’, because that would be unfair.
“I must actually check our schedules for this weekend – I know we have the PRO14 final and Super Rugby clashes.
“But I can’t see, from what happened on Saturday – if we take them off, it’s like we have already judged them, and judged who’s right or wrong.
“It’s not fair, as it would send a message to the public that if you are on air, you are right, and if not, you are wrong.”
The two Super Rugby matches on Saturday afternoon see the Bulls taking on the Brumbies at 3.05pm, followed by the Stormers and the Lions at 5.15pm.@ashfakmohamed