Angels Do Walk Among Us, And They Don’t Always Have Wings – The R100 Gesture That Led To A R460,000 ROI

By  |  June 6, 2019

Nkosikho Mbele is a petrol attendant at a Shell filling station in SA. Last week, he assisted a stranded woman with fuel and paid for it. Now, he is being rewarded with serious cash and Shell wants to put him on a plane to many places.

When Nkosikho Mbele stepped out for work on that fateful day, he must have thought it was just another day at the office. Except that it wasn’t much of an office. He put in work as a Pump Attendant at a Shell Gas Station located on the N2 near Makhaza, in South Africa.

This would imply that most of his day was spent under a shade, punching keys on petrol dispensing meters as per customer orders, sticking nozzles into fuel tanks, and receiving payment.

It wasn’t exactly a very rewarding job but it appears the young man was pretty good at it and was happy to do it too. And perhaps the job is very rewarding after all as his singular act of goodwill now seems to be catapulting him to fame and fortune.


It was a fairly busy day with several vehicles stopping by the filling station to have their tanks filled. Nkosikho was at his “pump attendant-best,” dispensing the liquid with a certain speed, gusto, dexterity, and cheerful demeanour.

And so when a young woman pulled up in front of the fuel dispenser that he was manning on that very day, he couldn’t have known that, in the few days that were to follow, he would be R460,000 richer and on his way to Zanzibar as Shell’s poster boy for “excellent service.”

Well, that’s what it looks like for Nkosikho at the moment and trust me, it had nothing to do with him helping the said woman replace a flat tyre or escape a mugging. It’s even better than that.

On that day, Monet van Deventer (the woman in question) was heading to Cape Town when she made a stop at the gas station where Nkosikho works. Her fuel meter was blinking red and she badly needed fuel. But Monet didn’t have the means as she had left her bank card at home and wasn’t carrying any cash. She was in a fix. It’s as close to a sticky situation as one can get in a fuel station.

Even though it seemed like it was going to be a bad day for her, she was in luck on one front. She had pulled over in front of Nkosikho’s station and under the red Shell windbreaker he wore was full shiny armour. Where many would have made a meal out of the situation and probably be right to, the young man showed what an angel he was.

Seeing that she couldn’t get far before she ran out of fuel as per her fuel meter, he was greatly concerned. He then reached in his pocket and paid for R100 worth of petrol on her behalf.

Having footed the woman’s bill, he sent her on way amidst profuse thanks and promises to reimburse the funds. But he didn’t really care if she did or didn’t, it gave him priceless satisfaction knowing that he could do something so small and yet make someone so happy.

“I didn’t care about the money. I saw the gratitude in her eyes. I saw that she appreciated what I did. That made me happy,” he said.

It was indeed a small gesture of kindness and goodwill – and maybe anyone could’ve done it – but there are no ‘maybes’ that this one did it, and it may be a random act of kindness that could change his life forever.

Monet did return a day later with just as much gratitude as the previous day, and some chocolates too. She had come to hand him back his R100 and once again thank him for helping her out, but that wasn’t all she had in mind. She wanted the whole world to know that perhaps angels do walk among us after all.

She took to social media to spread the word of his kindness and her gratitude and subsequently launched a crowdfunding campaign on his behalf in an effort to reward him even further. By now, the story of how he went out of his way to help a stranded customer had gone viral and if there was anything like SA’s No.1 Salesman, his had become the only name on the list.

Well, guess what? No less than R460,000 has been gathered for him so far via the crowdfunding campaign, and to think it was the result of a R100 gesture. Isn’t that some ROI? (hehe, just kidding).

For going the extra mile for a customer, Nkosikho might want to prepare to travel some more miles as Shell now wants to make an example out of him. And for once, it’s an example of the good kind.

This Tuesday, the company revealed that their hitherto little-known fuel attendant had been nominated to represent South Africa at the next Shell Global Service Excellence Awards, slated to take place in an international location next year.

As per the immediate plans the company has for him, he’d be on a plane to Zanzibar next month for the Shell Regional Service Excellence Awards where he’d be celebrated and rewarded.

“His story will be shared with the Shell global community to inspire others further. We will also donate R500,000 to a charity organisation of his choice to pave [the] way for many others,” the announcement reads.

“Shell is very proud of Nkosikho’s act of kindness and willingness to go the extra mile in assisting a customer pay for much-needed fuel. We believe that this is a true spirit of Ubuntu and a commitment from our people to make our customer’s journey better.”

Hloniphizwe Mtolo, the company’s chairperson in South Africa, put a call through to Nkosikho in the wake of the development to congratulate him and give him the news of his selection for cash rewards, awards, and travels. The young man was overwhelmed and shocked. At first, he even thought it was a prank, then later a dream.

He had to ask twice whether he was actually going to go to the awards and said someone needed to splash him with water. “Yes brother, it’s because you did the right thing,” Mtolo replied with a smile.

Concerns have been expressed on Twitter by people who appear to be worried that Nkosokho would not have direct access to the money raised via the crowdfunding campaign, reiterating that they had donated money on the basis that he would receive it directly into his account.

BackaBuddy has since attempted to put paid to those concerns by suggesting that Nkosikho would have full control of the funds and that the decision to have them administer the funds on his behalf was borne out of safety concerns.

Questions about how the funds will specifically be put to use haven’t gathered much as the young man offers that he hadn’t made a decision about the money but will sit with his mother, brother, and children to decide on the way forward. But he also hinted at wanting to start his own business and becoming his own boss.

In any case, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be kind to people you don’t know every once in a while, you never know who you might be helping. Nkosikho’s little gesture might just change his life forever, and we could use more of his kind. Perhaps angels really do walk among us, and they don’t always have wings.

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