Tribute to doyen of SA Motoring Journalism


06THE South African Motoring Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAMGJ) has paid a warm tribute to Jannie Herbst, a legend of media motoring in the country, who has passed on.

Herbst, 72, died on his birthday, August 19, two weeks after he had suffered a stroke.

The SAMGJ described Herbst as a masterful organiser who always made a plan to get things done. He would also be remembered for his enthusiasm, resourcefulness, determination and his total commitment to being good to those around him.

“Jannie was very involved in the Guild In the early ‘eighties up to the late ‘nineties. He regularly attended Guild functions, and constantly stepped up to help make everything work seamlessly. He had numerous stints on Guild working committees, and in 1984 he was the first winner of the SAGMJ Motoring Journalist of the Year competition. Typically, when receiving the accolade, he expressed modest surprise: ‘I’m just a photographer, not a full-on journalist’ A decade later, in 1994, he again won the accolade.

“Jannie started his career in journalism in 1966 when he helped his dad publish the Alberton Courier. and later joined the Afrikaans daily, Die Transvaler. He was then appointed editor of Die Motor, a monthly Afrikaans motoring magazine that closed down in 1977, and in 1978 he founded the Afrikaans motoring magazine Wiel. He later said his announcement to start his own Afrikaans motoring magazine was not met with much enthusiasm by the motor industry. “Looking back, I was taking a big risk but, thanks to naivety and a large dose of enthusiasm, I went ahead with it.”

“In its time, Wiel won many prizes for innovative journalism, presentation and – always – exceptional photography. Awards included the prestigious Rossi Trophy for best consumer magazine on four occasions. He sold the magazine in 1989. but remained involved until 1995 when ownership of Wiel changed hands a few times before the final issue was then published by Ramsay Media in February 2011 – exactly 33 years after the first edition had appeared. After selling Wiel he started Leisure Wheels in 1997 and, in 2008 that magazine went monthly. He remained involved with Leisure Wheels until 2017 when he retired from business.

“Always the gentleman, Jannie will be long remembered for his contribution to motoring journalism and the motor industry but in particular for his contribution towards Afrikaans journalism. He was a role model for many young and upcoming journalists and during his career of more than four decades Jannie conceived many novel Afrikaans motoring terms – now officially accepted. In 1990 he was also honoured by the FAK for his contribution towards the advancement of Afrikaans.”

He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Maryke, and sons Carel and Jan.

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