Gas Attendant Pays For Woman’s Fuel, Is Rewarded With Eight Years' Salary

Feb 17, 2021 by apost team

On a sunny spring morning in 2019, Monet van Deventer, a Cape Town native, was driving home from Somerset West when she realized her gas tank was running low. She took a turn on the highway to stop at the next gas station and stepped out of the car to refuel. Nkosikho Mbele, the gas station attendant on shift that day, walked up to the vehicle to wash the windows as van Deventer pulled her wallet to pay. But as she fiddled through her belongings, her heart sank when she realized she had forgotten her card. She thanked Mbele for cleaning her windows but explained that she wasn't able to pay for gas and would have to go on her way. Mbele became distraught as he saw her fuel gauge glaring red. Not willing to leave her stranded on the N2 highway, he insisted he pay for the fuel and offered that she instead pay him back when she was in the area again. 

At first, van Deventer thought it was a scheme offered by the gas station company, Shell. Then, Mbele surprised her by taking out his own personal bank card to pay the R100 bill (US$6,77). As she drove away, she was still in disbelief at the kind deed that Mbele had done for her. Van Deventer knew she wanted to do something for him to return the generous gesture, so she shared the story on Facebook to tell the world of Mbele's kind heart. Then came an outpouring of offers from strangers who wanted to donate money to the gas station attendant, and Mbele's life changed forever. 

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That day, Monet van Deventer, 21, had gotten up just before sunset to make her way back to Gardens in Cape to meet clients. She worked as an account manager at a hospitality software company while studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. In a hurry to reach her clients on time, the 21-year-old forgot to pack her bank card but did not realize that until after she arrived at the Firgrove Shell gas station. 

"I had this strange feeling that I forgot my card. I then started looking for it, and while I was searching, Nkosikho started washing my windows," van Deventer told Times Live.

"I said to him, thanks for washing my windows but I can't put petrol in today. He seemed stressed and shocked because he was looking at my fuel needle which was already in the red," she added.

According to 'Times Live,' in her Facebook post, Deventer explained that Mbele, 28, was adamant about not letting van Deventer leave with an empty tank. 

"He said to me, 'ma'am, you can't run out of petrol on the N2'. And he said, 'I'll pay R100 and whenever you are near again you can just give me back my R100'," she explained in her post. 

Without even waiting for her to approve his idea, Mbele proceeded to fill her tank with fuel. 

"I thought, perhaps it was a business thing that Shell does this for you and then I saw him literally take his own card and pay for it. When I drove away it dawned on me what just happened," the 21-year-old continued.

For Mbele, who earned around R1,100 (US $74) per week at the time, R100 was a substantial chunk of his daily pay. But he feared letting her go would mean van Deventer would become stranded.

"I asked her how low is the fuel, and she said it was low. I asked her, 'will you make it?', and she said: 'I'm not sure.' I said let me just do this for you," Mbele told the publication. 

After their encounter, he explained that he didn't expect to ever see van Deventer again. So when she returned just days later with chocolates and his R100, he was pleasantly surprised. 

"I was so grateful that she came back. I could see in her eyes that she appreciated my help, you know when someone sees that you have done something for them. I could see it in her eyes that she really appreciated that I had done something for her," Mbele recalled.

Van Deventer's Facebook post quickly attracted hundreds of strangers, who were touched by Mbele's selfless gesture and wanted to do something to help him and his family. That's when the student became inspired to set up a fundraiser in his name. 

"Since Nkosikho saved my life I would love to do something in return for him," she wrote on the fundraiser page. "His 2 children, mom and brother lives with him in Khayelitsha and he will really benefit from any donations."

For Mbele, the funds would help him save up to send his children to higher education, as well as do charity work to help kids on the streets.

The fundraiser quickly spread like wildfire and the funds started pouring in like crazy. By the time they had closed it for further donations, they had already raised R 505217.48 (about US$94,000.) Mbele's employers at Shell quickly caught wind of the viral story and decided they wanted to award him themselves too. They named the 28-year-old as the company's South African nominee for the Regional Service Excellence Award and announced that they would be donating R500,000 (around US$35,000) to the charity of his choosing. 

Shell chairman Hloniphizwe Mtolo had been so inspired by Mbele's act of kindness that he decided to personally congratulate him. 

“I’ve seen the good news and wanted to call and congratulate you for the good work you have done,” Mtolo told Mbele, according to Times Live. “We have decided to respond to what the public has done and donate half a million rand to a charity that you will choose,” he added.

"That’s amazing news, thank you so much my brother," Mbele replied. 

Mbele traveled to Zanzibar, Tanzania, in June 2019 for the award ceremony. 

“I am so happy that I am nominated for awards. Being recognised by Shell South Africa means a lot. I still cannot believe this is happening only because of R100 indeed it is a work of God. Going to Tanzania will be a great experience for me, and the fact that I nominated for next year's representative South Africa means a lot,” Mbele told IOL

While Mbele's act of kindness might have inspired much praise from people all around South Africa, he insists that it's God who they should really thank. "I was just doing what anyone with a good heart would have done," he stressed.

Were you inspired by Nkosikho Mbele's heartwarming gesture? Have you ever had a stranger help you in a sticky situation? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you pass this along to your friends and family! 

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