News / South Africa

Gopolang Moloko
2 minute read
18 Apr 2018
3:38 pm

SA Guild of Motoring Journalists accused of covering up racism

Gopolang Moloko

A complaint has been laid against a prominent motoring writer who, among other things, told someone their comment was a 'typically African 70 IQ response'.

Bernard Hellberg Sr. Image: Bernard Hellberg via Facebook

The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists has found itself having to deal with a possible racism scandal after complaints against one of its senior members was laid at the SA Human Rights Commission.

The complainant, Thegendra Naidoo, was himself expelled from the guild in 2014 for saying on social media that he wanted to knock down motorcycle riders. His disciplinary hearing took less than two months.

He’s now alleging double standards after discovering posts by veteran motoring journalist Bernard Hellberg Snr – a contributor to Driven and SA Express Airways’ Indwe inflight magazine, which he claims are racist and offensive and far worse than anything he ever wrote.

He also alleges the guild attempted to cover up the case because Hellberg Snr’s son (and employer), Bernard Hellberg Jr, is the guild’s chairperson.

Naidoo told The Citizen he lodged a complaint with the guild after seeing Hellbergs’ posts late last year but claims he was ignored.

The Sunday Times then ran an article about the case this Sunday after the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) confirmed it was investigating the matter.

“In my case, the guild issued a public press release and distanced itself from my comment and reiterated its commitment to road safety. Their press release was shared on Twitter and Facebook on 17 February 2014,” Naidoo said, questioning why there appeared to be double standards.

He also questioned why the guild had not clarified its position on Bernard Snr’s alleged racism in a press release, as they had done in his case.

Naidoo said that, to him it was clear that Hellberg Snr had on more than one occasion used racial slurs “during his vitriol attacks on social media”.

“With Vicki Momberg’s racial splat setting a precedent, one can only pray that this cautions individuals from making similar racist nuances. Mr Hellberg is no exception.”

In an alleged comment by Hellberg Snr on a Facebook post from the Mail and Guardian about the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, he allegedly said: “The tricky part will be to get the bush out of these dancing bunnies.”

Quoted in another comment: “Those fellas [Indians] probably worship rats as reincarnated relatives. Adds new meaning to the term rat race.”

The guild has issued a statement internally stating they are looking into the matter and that their executive committee met on Monday to discuss the issue.

The Citizen was informed of a further meeting about the case on Wednesday.

Take a look at some of screenshots below, as sent by Naidoo.