Bernard Karl Hellberg

Yesterday on Sunday 15 April 2018 the Motoring media industry was rocked by a racism scandal. In an article that appeared on the day’s Sunday Times newspaper, one of the most prominent families in the industry was heavily implicated in racism and a cover-up of such racism. The article’s main subject is Mr Bernard Karl Hellberg snr, a veteran motoring journalist who works for his son Mr Bernard Hellberg jr. on two publications named Driven and Indwe (published on behalf of South African Express Airways). So serious is the matter than the South African Human Rights Commission has been roped in.


At the centre of the story are racist comments made by Bernard Hellberg snr in a number of Facebook and other social media posts. Commenting on a 2017 Mail and Guardian article about the Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), Hellberg snr said “The tricky part will be to get the bush out of these dancing bunnies”. He is quoted on another article comment on a 2016 Politicsweb story saying “Thank you for the vulgar, typically African 70 IQ response. I would have not expected anything less from a follower of the Thief in Chief”. Yet another rant had him saying “Those fellas [Indians] probably worship rats as reincarnated relatives. Adds new meaning to the term rat race”.


The article stems from a complaint to the SAHRC by Thegandra Naidoo who was fired from his job as a motoring journalist a few years ago after expressing a desire to run over motor cyclists during his own social media post. Mr Naidoo has also lodged a complaint with the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists. Unfortunately, according to him, the SAGMJ has not responded to his complaint which was lodged late last year already. He believes this is because Bernard Hellberg jr. is the chairman of the Guild and is protecting his father. The SAGMJ are the organisers of the annual Wesbank Car of the Year competition. The Guild is expected to issue a statement in the next couple of days, while Wesbank and SA Express did not comment to the Sunday Times.

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