[EXCLUSIVE] Willemse wants to restore his dignity at SAHRC hearing on walkout

SuperSport rugby analyst Ashwin Willemse says his legal team will no longer be be taking the SuperSport matter to the Equality Court.

Presenter Eusebius McKaiser sat down Willemse in his first media interview since his infamous SuperSport walkout.

Read: Eusebius: 'I think the CEOs of MultiChoice and Supersport were pathetic'

In May, Willemse walked out of a live broadcast, claiming that fellow analysts Nick Mallet and Naas Botha had patronised and undermined him.

Last month, SuperSport announced that Advocate Vincent Maleka found no racism was involved in the incident.

Read more: MultiChoice finds no racism involved in Ashwin Willemse walk-out

Instead of heading to court, Willemse says he's now prepared to participate in a Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearing about his walkout.

He says he has reached out to both Botha and Mallet since publicly voicing his feelings.

It's legitimate pain.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

I understand the magnitude of what has transpired... I understand this moment and what it has started.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

The Human Rights Commission is there to protect the Constitution.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

Teary-eyed elderly folk meet me on the streets and tell me 'Thanks for standing up for me'. Young people tell me 'Thank you'.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

I will be allowed to go there and engage in that appropriate forum and, in the process, hopefully restore my dignity.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

I've reached out to Nick [Mallet] and Naas [Botha] based on the premise of reconciliation. That same spirit is [the one] with which I would engage all parties involved, including the employer, SuperSport.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

I've been very clear to SuperSport. I believe this incident was rooted in racism.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

There's no doors that are closed.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

Willemse hasn’t been on the SuperSport screens in over a month following the incident.

He was thrust back into the spotlight last week when he obtained his Masters Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand.

He graduated with a Masters Degree of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation with distinction, earning much praise from supporters on social media.

The former Springbok winger says he never imagined he would achieve a postgraduate qualification because none of his family members before him had pursued academia.

He adds that the unfulfilled potential of some of his family members has pushed him to be an inspiration to his own children and youth across the country.

Willemse shared his incredible life story, and how he overcame a world of drugs and gangsterism.

He spoke about his upbringing in his hometown of Caledon, the pain of growing up with an absent father, and the pride he has in his mother.

Willemse made reference to the role models he encountered in his life, including his mentor, an English teacher and sports coach named Andre de Bruin.

He also opened up about some of the crucial lessons learnt in his rugby career.

It's rooted in who I am. It's rooted in the story of my family and community .

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

It never crossed my mind that I would walk through the doors of a tertiary institution. No one in my family has ever done that. It was never even a thought as a youngster.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

My son, Africa, is turning six in September and he already talks about changing the world, building star ships and developing robots.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

My father's absence in my life was his presence in my life. The nothingness within which I had to try construct an image, a presence, was a dangerous thing for a young man.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

My mother never went to high school. She started out as a cleaner, a domestic. She did it with pride and ownership. She took responsibility.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

My mother was the greatest form of ambidexterity that I could have ever known... She worked herself from the ground up.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

I can't reconcile the person I am today with that youngster that was lured. My imagination has now expanded. My understanding of myself has developed.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

Breyton Paulse was a change agent. He was a gift, My Hero... His generosity made me believe in the goodness of human beings.

Ashwin Willemse, former Springbok winger and rugby analyst

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