A Good Samaritan? No, he just wants to enrich the lives of those in need – he’s not seeking recognition or rewards.
So says a man who’s being hailed as a hero on social media after posting a video in which he buys groceries for a needy Gauteng couple, who are visually impaired too.
The couple in the video, who want to be identified only as Ernst and Christelle, look shabby, worn out and burnt from too much time spent outdoors.
They’ve been dealt hard blows by life, says BI Phakati (a pseudonym).
In the video Ernst tells how he spends hours in wind and weather daily day pulling the trolley he uses to collect cardboard for recycling. He receives 80 cents for a kilogram of cardboard.
“You see a lot of guys in the streets doing what I’m doing for a cigarette or a drink or something. But I’m doing it to earn a living. My kids are at school. I’m not like the others,” Ernst says in the video.
Then Phakati asks Ernstand Christelle why they didn’t react when he waved to them, which is when the couple reveal both are visually impaired.
“If only I could see . . . then I would have been a rich man. Then I wouldn’t be here in the streets,” Ernst says. “I’m dirt poor, but I’m not like other people [on the streets].”
In die video Phakati then takes Christelle to a store where buys her a trolley load of groceries and later hands the couple R1 000 in cash.
“I was walking out of the store when I saw them in the street collecting cardboard,” he says.
“It can’t but break your heart. They’re scorched by the son. You can see they’re struggling. But they’re not sitting doing nothing. They’re trying their best to get an income of some kind.”
He says the couple was overcome by emotion. “They couldn’t say thank you enough. In today’s life you don’t expect this goodness from people, and they were stunned. But that’s what I want to show with this video: We can all do something like this for someone.”
While Phakati is getting showered with praise by most people – and other similar videos can be seen on his Facebook page – some are questioning why these actions should be documented.
“I’m not doing it for myself or for recognition,” he responds
“That’s why you never see my face or name in the videos. It’s not about me. It’s about sharing the videos to inspire others and call people to action to support the needy. Can you think what will happen if all of us helped just one person each?”
Phakati is a community leader in Honeydew, where he conducts a monthly prayer service at a community centre. Needy people converge there and are given donations of groceries to alleviate their plight.
“I took my first a video like this in 2014 and shared it on social media. The idea was to get people to become involved. But then the video was widely circulated – and ever since then many have wanted to know how they can get involved or help. To us this is spreading the word of God.”
It’s his calling to do such work, Phakati says.
“I believe with all my heart that it’s God who sends everyone in the videos on my path. So I have a responsibility to listen. But it’s not just on my path – it’s also others’ paths. And we’re expected to listen.”