Though very strange in modern days, sometimes total strangers can indeed be lifesavers. One woman was left by the side of the highway with no gas or money and no way to get back home. That’s when help arrived.
Monet van Deventer was driving home in Cape Town, South Africa, shortly after 7 a.m. one day in 2019, she had scheduled a meeting with clients. According to spotlight stories, she arrived at the Firgrove Shell along the N2 highway with her fuel gauge blazing red.
“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,” she said.
The 21-year-old account manager at a hospitality software company quickly realized she wouldn’t be able to pay for gas.
“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 said.
“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’,” said Van Deventer in her post on Facebook.
Before she could respond, Mbele was pouring gasoline into the car.
“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,” she said.
Mbele expressed concern that with so little gas left, the car might crash on the N2 highway.
“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,” he said.
He said he did not know whether she might come back. He earns about R1,100 per week, and R100 was a substantial portion of his daily earnings. He needn’t have worried, though.
A couple of days later, Van Deventer returned with Mbele’s money with a box of chocolates. She asked him why he had helped her.
“He didn’t know me at all, he didn’t ask for my number or anything. He took a chance and I could have never come back. And then he told me, ‘ma’am, I’m a believer’,” she said.
“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,” said Mbele.
Both of them said the incident inspired them with hope for South Africa. It quickly went viral after Monet shared it on her Facebook page, with thousands of people praising the man. She then decided to start a fundraiser for him, following the outpouring of support for Mbele.
“I talked to him and we had a nice chat. We are going to start a crowdfunding campaign now, and he can decide what he wants to do with the money,” she said.
Mbele told her that he intended to put the money toward improving his neighborhood.
“I want to do something that could help the children. I have to sit down and think. It’s still like I’m in a dream,” he said.
Good deeds multiply. The story also found its way up the corporate ladder, where he was nominated for the Regional Service Excellence Award.
Shell has also committed to contributing $35,000 to a local charity of the man’s choosing.
“I’ve seen the good news and wanted to call and congratulate you for the good work you have done,” chairman Hloniphizwe Mtolo told Mbele. “We have decided to respond to what the public has done and donate half a million rand to a charity that you will choose.”
“It was God’s doing, all of this. I feel like I’m dreaming. I’m shocked. I’m positive about us. As ordinary people, we can bring a change to life. You see, I was no one, but out of this small thing, the way that people who don’t even know me can see me…”
Below is a recreation of the event in the video: