Siphamandla Wiseman Ndabezitha will never forget the day he was made a fool of on the forecourt where he works – or the kindness of strangers who have rallied to help him.
The incident happened in January but the video of Wiseman’s humiliation only went viral recently. Now the 38-year-old is watching in gratitude and amazement as the money keeps pouring in.
The clip, secretly shot by the prankster, was taken at the BP service station in Pietermaritzburg where Wiseman has worked since 2012.
It shows Wiseman attending to a customer who requests petrol “for 210”, which Wiseman believed to mean R210. The customer in fact was referring to two R10 notes.
“I repeated what he said before filling his tank and he repeated it too – ‘210’. Little did I know what he was referring to two 10 rands.”
Wiseman proceeded to ask the customer if he needed his oil checked or windscreen cleaned before going to fetch payment for the petrol.
“When handed me two 10 rand notes I was so confused and shocked because I was sure that I heard him say 210,” Wiseman tells YOU.
“I didn’t even have a cent in my name at the time and I had no idea how I was going to pay for the outstanding amount.”
Wiseman informed his employer, Wayne Smith, and his boss immediately took his side. “I’ve worked with Wiseman for more than seven years and he is such a humble and respectful person, so I knew it wasn’t his fault,” Wayne says.
“When these things happen, we have to fit the bill as a business and then a case is opened against that particular customer. The amount is not taken out the employee's salary.”
Luckily one of Wiseman’s colleagues knew the customer and he was prompted to pay the bill. Then he found out the man had taken a video of the episode and he was mortified.
“This man made a joke out of me and recorded it as well,” he says. “It made me really upset.”
Wiseman then made a smart move: worried the man would post the proof on social media, he decided to beat him to it. “I asked the customer to share the video with me and I shared it on my Facebook page and on WhatsApp,” he says.
“I was so embarrassed by what happened that I wanted people to see it from me first instead of the video doing the rounds without my knowledge.”
He became something of a laughingstock. People started calling him “210” and it “hurt my feelings”, Wiseman reveals. “That’s not who I am. That’s not how I want to be remembered.”
After a while it all died down – until the resurfaced again recently on TikTok and Twitter and really blew up.
Corporate attorney and social activist Tumi Sole, founder of the #CountryDuty movement which prides itself on “offering a voice for the voiceless” and campaigns to foster change and enforce accountability, created the hashtag Wiseman and appealed for people to help.
“210 turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Wiseman says.
“I was confused – I didn’t even know the video was on Twitter and now people wanted to give me money.”
Good Samaritans were soon donating between R100 and R210 to an incredulous Wiseman. “When I saw the notifications [from the bank] coming in I was amazed. It felt like a dream. It still does.”
South Africans have so far raised over R10 000 for Wiseman, who supports his pensioner mother, two sisters, as well as three nieces and nephews.
“I want to build my mother a house,” Wiseman says.
“That woman carried me for nine months and has been through so much for me – she deserves everything. She currently lives in a mud house so I want to rebuild that for her completely.”
Wiseman is also a livestock keeper. “I have four goats and four cows, so my dream is to extend my livestock even further and maybe get myself a driver's licence.”
He’ll never forget the spirit of Ubuntu South Africans have shown. “I would like to thank my boss, Wayne; the BP management; my fellow colleagues; and, most importantly, my family.
“And a big thank you to Tumi Sole and everyone who worked with him, I am honestly lost for words. Thank you, South Africa, for showing me that kindness is a universal language.”