A black petrol pump attendant who paid for fuel for a white woman who forgot her credit cards and risked been stranded in a dangerous part of town has been rewarded with more than £26,000.
Nkosikho Mbele, 28, was helping serve 21-year-old Monet van Deventer at a Shell garage on the outskirts of Cape Town when the account manager realised she had left her credit cards at home.
Knowing that refusing the young woman fuel could mean standing her in the notorious Khayelitsha township that she was about to drive through, Mbele paid £5 of his own money to fill her tank up.
In return, Deventer set up a crowd-funding appeal to raise money for Mbele, which soon reached £26,600 – the equivalent of eight years’ salary.
Speaking of his joy after the story made news stations across South Africa, Mbele said: ‘I was just doing what anyone else would have done, from the heart. I believe there is no black and white and that we are all one people and I just want to bring people together.’
On top of raising Mbele the cash, Deventer also visited the garage in person to pay back Mbele’s £5 once she had collected her credit cards.
Deventer, from Gordons Bay, was on her daily 35 mile drive into Cape Town in her VW Polo when she pulled in at the Shell Ultra City False Bay garage to top up her near empty tank.
She said: ‘I asked the petrol attendant to hold off putting in fuel because I couldn’t find my purse and after a few minutes I told him that I had left my money and cards at home.
‘I said I would chance making it to work but he just said “No ma’am you can’t run out of fuel on the N2 it is too dangerous” and said he would put R100 of his own money into my tank.
‘I was so shocked as it was such an amazing gesture and it made my day. I decided to make his kindness public and took to Facebook and then set up a crowdfunding page for him.
‘I couldn’t imagine people of South Africa both black and white would embrace his kindness in such a way and now Nkosikho has closed the account as he says he has too much money.’
But Mbele’s newfound wealth has – ironically – caused him to fear for his own safety in case somebody from the township, where he lives, tries to rob him.
So he has ordered crowdfunding site BackaBuddy to hold on to the money and use it to build him a house, pay school fees for his children, and pay his bills.
Mbele, who currently lives with his two children, his mother and brother in a small shack said: ‘The lady had no money to carry on her journey safely to work.
‘I know how dangerous that stretch of the N2 is that she wanted to travel and my faith in God told me it was the right thing to pay for her to travel safely so I bought her fuel for her.
‘I was just happy to see her drive away knowing she would arrive where she had to get to safely and I had no idea that I would have my life so blessed in return for what I did.’
Employers Shell agreed to match the donations he was handed, so long as he passes the money on to a charity of his choice.
Mbele added said:’I now have R500,000 from Shell to donate to charity and I want to help young people and make a difference in their lives and I have R500,000 to look after my own two children.
‘I am going to use the money I have to make the big man up above us all very happy’ he said.
Shell chairman Mr Hloniphizwe Mtole personally rang up Nkosikho and told him: ‘I have seen the good work you have done and I want to congratulate you for your act of kindness.
‘We have decided to respond to what the public has done and donate a similar figure of half a million rand to a charity that you will choose to benefit those that you want to help’.
The Shell boss told the star-struck petrol pump attendant would also be flown by them to a Shell conference in Zanzibar where he had been put forward for a staff excellence award.
As well as becoming wealthy, Mbele became an overnight celebrity thanks to his kind actions.
‘It is all quite amazing and when I walk round the township after work I keep getting stopped and asked to pose for selfies – my life has been turned upside down,’ he said.
The dangers of running out of petrol when close to townships in South Africa are well documented.
In May young couple Johanco Fleischman, 19, and girlfriend Jessica Khun, 23, were shot dead on a motorway bridge near Johannesburg when their car ran out of fuel, leaving them stranded.