Ashwin Willemse pictured on tour with the Springboks in Fremantle in 2003. Picture: AP
Ashwin Willemse pictured on tour with the Springboks in Fremantle in 2003. Picture: AP

‘Rooted in racism’: former Springboks star speaks out

FORMER South African winger Ashwin Willemse - who stormed off a live TV show alleging he was a victim of racism from fellow pundits - has vowed to take his complaint to the country's human rights commission.

The black former international player spoke out for the first time since the spat in March when he walked out of a post-match discussion with two white ex-Springboks, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, who were also game analysts.

"I will be allowed to engage at that appropriate forum and hopefully in that process restore my dignity," Willemse told 702 talk radio, referring to the human rights commission, a statutory body set up after the end of apartheid.

"Let them tell us whether or not Ashwin you are legitimate in the pain which you are feeling or not," he said.

An inquiry by the SuperSport channel found that Botha and Mallett's conduct in an off-air conversation and in the live broadcast was not racist, but Willemse remained adamant about his claim.

South African great Naas Botha speaks at a lunch in Sydney.
South African great Naas Botha speaks at a lunch in Sydney.

"I was clear to them (SuperSport) that I believed this incident was rooted in racism," he said.

Black players were barred from South Africa's national squad under apartheid and the majority of the current side is white despite 90 per cent of the population being non-white.

When he walked out of the studio, Willemse said he refused to be patronised by two men who played for their country in the apartheid era.

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