News24.com | Ashwin Willemse saga: The downsides of crying wolf

Finally, after days of speculation as to what caused the whole Ashwin-Gate on Supersport this past Saturday, we have clarity on what caused the entire debacle.

If what has been reported is to be believed, a technical fault started a chain of events that would eventually lead to Ashwin Willemse walking off a live TV set, under the auspices of being the victim of racial discrimination.

But that wasn‘t the case. 

Before any facts had been made available to the public about what had transpired, Nick Mallet and Naas Botha had been publicly tried, found guilty and convicted of being racist.

But that wasn‘t the case.

Ex-players, the sports minister, political groups and columnists came out in full support of Ashwin‘s actions, commending him for taking a stand against racism by walking off set, in protest of racism.

Again, racism was not the case.

What actually happened is, due to a technical fault and a misinterpretation of actions taken by Nick and Naas, Ashwin saw fit to walk off set like a petulant child. Despite being a “professional” TV personality, he wasn‘t able to control his emotions on set and ended conducting himself very unprofessionally.

But guess what, no one is going to talk about that. 

What has happened as a result of this whole debacle is this; two men (Naas Botha and Nick Mallet) now have a stigma hanging over their heads. The minute a persons name is said in the same sentence as the word “racist”, it sticks. It‘s kind of like being accused of sexual harassment and being proven not guilty – the problem is you have been tainted with the association and there‘s nothing you can do.

Some are of the opinion that although this may have not been race related, it got everyone talking about the important issue of racism. Well, if that‘s how you perceive the outcome of this whole saga, then one could very well argue that Kallie Kriel and his local band of misfits are doing good work in the USA, because although there might not be white genocide in South Africa, they have gotten everyone talking about the important issue of farm murders. That doesn‘t sound quite right, does it?

Another thing that has been accomplished by the presumption that this was a race based episode, when it clearly wasn‘t, is someone else‘s legitimate claim of racial discrimination will be taken a little less seriously. 

At the end of the day, we may have gotten talking about race, racism and the constitution thereof, but it has come at the cost of our national cohesion. 

People like our sports minister have shown their true colours (for lack of a better word), and one can only hope that they are big enough to apologise to Nick Mallet and Naas Botha, to show that there may be a need to tackle racism, but an even bigger need to admit when we are wrong.

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