Mbele, 28, says he had no idea that his “small act of kindness would turn into something so big”.
The attendant paid R100 to put petrol into Monet van Deventer’s car tank this month because she was afraid that she would get stranded on the N2, on her way to work.
In return, Van Deventer started a crowdfunding campaign to help Mbele, his mother, brother and two children.
More than R400000 has been raised so far.
Born and raised in Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, Nkosi came to Cape Town at the age of 7. Raised by his mother with his younger brother, Mbele grew up spending most of his time in church and reading his Bible.
This is what has made him the person that he is today. “Growing up, I wanted to be a soccer player, but as time went on, I realised that being employed and dependent on money is the root of all evil and all problems we are faced with in the world today. I am the way I am today because of my faith in the Bible,” he said.
He enjoys working at the garage because he meets new and different people every day. “I am a very private person, I don’t like being in the limelight and now that small gesture has turned my life upside down.
“I highly appreciate South Africans who have embraced me and shown me even greater gratitude than I had ever expected, but I would like to get back to just being me,” says the father of two.
“What is happening to me now has opened my eyes to a whole new world; it has made me realise that humanity still lives, but we as a nation also still need to move away from the notion that apartheid and racism have to form part of our daily lives. We have to hold each other’s hands and unite as a people, and in that way the spirit of Ubuntu will grow and live on.”
He is now unable to walk freely in his community of Makhaza in Khayelitsha without people trying to take selfies with him. “People treat me like a celebrity, and I’m not. I just helped a fellow human being.”
Shell will also donate R500000 to a charity of Mbele’s choice. “I’ve been busy since the day this all started. I’m yet to sit with my mom and the rest of the family to discuss everything. I am, however, confident that a sign from above will come and we will make a decision that will not only be pleasing to us, but the man above as well.”