Meet the journalists representing SA at the Auto Olympics

The importance of the South African motor industry in the global economy is underlined by fact that four local motor journalists have been selected to serve on the panel that will select the Word Car of the Year (WCOTY) 2021.

Meet the journalists representing SA at the Auto Olympics

Previously, only two South African were bestowed with this honour. The four of them will form part of a jury consisting of 82 automotive journalists from 24 different countries, who will decide the best ride for 2021.

To qualify, cars must be sold in at least five countries, on at least two continents prior to 1 January of the year of the award. According to the 2020 media report by leading research and analysis firm, Cision Insights, it is the number one awards programme of its kind, an acclaim it has held for the last eight consecutive years.

The two new jurors are Brenwin Naidu and Lerato Matebese, who will join fellow scribes Hannes Oosthuizen and Charleen Clarke.

Brenwin Naidu:

He currently holds the position of Section Editor for the Sowetan Motoring and Sunday Times Lifestyle Motoring titles, published weekly and monthly respectively.

In addition, the 27-year-old is a familiar face as a contributor to Ignition GT, the flagship magazine show of Ignition TV, DStv channel 189, the only 24/7 motoring channel in Southern Africa.

“South Africa deserves representation on the global stage. It is worth remembering that as many as nine of the biggest carmakers in the world have well-established manufacturing and assembly facilities on local soil, catering to markets on the African continent and beyond,” says Brenwin.

And what is he up to when not behind the wheel of a car?

“These days you can find me safely at home nurturing my culinary skills. Lockdown has helped me refine my cooking and baking skills. From curries to cakes, my kitchen has to be one of the liveliest in all of Roodepoort.

“I also read a lot, which is simply essential for anyone in the trade of plying words. Currently, most of my bedside literature pertains to studies, as I am enrolled in the part-time BA Honours Media Studies programme at the University of Witwatersrand. One never stops learning,” says Brenwin.

Lerato Matebese:

Lerato Matebese is editor of Driven magazine. He entered the motor industry at the beginning of 2006 as the then SAGMJ (South African Motoring Journalists) bursar student and in the process contributed to a vast number of motoring titles, comprising of both magazines and newspapers.

From January 2007 to September 2018, Lerato was employed as a senior motoring writer for Business Day’s weekly motoring supplement, Motor News, a position he had held for just over 11 years.

Matebese joined TCB Media in October 2018 as editor of the premium motoring title, Driven magazine. Bringing with him a wealth of media automotive experience, he has been instrumental in growing Driven magazine, both in terms of reach and status.

He has been an SAGMJ South African Car of the Year Jury member for 8 years having served as an assistant for two years prior to that, and he has also been a juror for the WesBank-sponsored awards for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Lerato is even more passionate about his family than cars. “Family is everything to me, I'm married to the most wonderful wife, Liketso; we have two children together - with another on the way,” says the proud father.

“Outside of motoring, I am an avid music lover with a varying taste in genres from Pop to R'nB, House and Hip Hop to name a few. I enjoy braaiing and gourmet cooking for family and friends and pairing it with a good glass of wine for good measure. I also enjoy reading books, autobiographies in particular, as I find them very inspirational and uplifting, Lerato says.

Charleen Clarke:

Charleen Clarke has worked as a writer, editor, photographer, publisher, MC, public speaker and television presenter since 1984. She cut her teeth in journalism in Port Elizabeth, working on the newspaper in that city for two years. She moved to Johannesburg in 1986, where she joined Caxton as a journalist.

In 1988 she joined National Publishing as a journalist. She was promoted to executive editor of five magazines within two years. After seven years with National Publishing, she branched out on her own, initially working for FOCUS as editor before buying the magazine and starting Charmont Media Global.

Charleen also has an interest in all things automotive and she has won numerous awards, including South African Motoring Journalist of the Year and South African Commercial Vehicle Journalist of the Year and serves as a board member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Benevolent Fund.

She judges the World Car Awards, the South African Car of the Year, the international Truck Innovation Award, the Women’s World Car of the Year and she’s an associate member of the International Truck of the Year jury.

“My friends call me a glomad (a global nomad lest you don’t get it). That is a particularly apt word, because I am always trawling all corners of the globe, looking for stories.

“As a result, I have slept in some seriously strange places – on a bed of ice in the Arctic circle, on the floor in a traditional Japanese hotel, on the sand dunes in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan … and even on the floor of a Thai cargo ship.

“Mostly, however, I tend to sleep on aircraft (if I had a dog, he would bark at me when I eventually come home). I am passionate about trucks, cars, travel, food, wine, people and hugs – so I write about all these things. Except the hugs.”

Hannes Oosthuizen:

Hannes was included in the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 young South Africans and also The Media's most influential people under 40.

He studied journalism at the University of Stellenbosch and then did an internship at CAR Magazine, which was his life goal growing up. He started Galimoto Media with Dr Hans Heese to supply small regional newspapers with motoring content, in addition to having a permanent job at Paarl Post as Sports Editor.

One year later, in 2011, a vacancy opened up at CAR. He became Deputy Editor when John Bentley was made editor, and then the youngest editor (at that time) in 2011. He stayed for two years before he decided that for career growth and personal growth, he needed get out of the media industry.

“After CAR, I joined GWM. This was a specific choice as I wanted a brand that would give me a broad scope of experience in a very short space of time. I was involved with product development, pricing, marketing, media and dealership training, all of which would be invaluable in my later career,” Hannes says.

“But most of all, I'm proud of what we've managed to achieve at in a very short space of time, particularly regarding the Consumer Awards, now the country's leading awards programme.”

Hannes says his love for older cars has been growing in recent years. “I love history and I love cars, so the two collide in classic car ownership for me. I really feel like we need lots of custodians to make sure these cars are preserved for the next generation.”

Any other activities when not driving around? “Everything in my life is motoring-related, even in my free time, whether it's collecting small scale model cars with my son, growing the SentiMETAL lifestyle brand or just going for a drive to clear my mind,” he concludes.

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