Nkosikho Mbele: Public Outcry After BackaBuddy Holds Donated Funds

Social media users have raised concerns over crowd funder BackaBuddy’s decision not to pay campaign money into petrol attendant Nkosikho Mbele’s personal bank account. The crowdfunder is acting at Mbele’s behest, it said.

Last week, in an act of kindness, Mbele used his own money to pour R100 worth of petrol into 21-year-old motorist Monet van Deventer’s car after she had forgotten her bank card at home. Mbele works as a petrol attendant at a Shell garage.

Mbele told Van Deventer to pay him back when she was back in the area, without taking down her details. He was worried that Van Deventer would be stuck on a dangerous stretch of the N2 highway if she ran out of fuel.

In gratitude, Van Deventer created a crowdfunding campaign for Mbele on BackaBuddy. While the initial target was R100, 000, members of the public donated almost R500, 000 to the campaign so far.

Mbele said he would spend will the funds donated to him on his two children’s education and living expenses at their Khayelitsha home. He lives with his two children, his mother and his brother.

Control over Mbele’s funds raises concerns

The money raised for Mbele during the campaign will not be paid directly into Mbele’s bank account. Instead, the money will be administered by BackaBuddy and transferred directly to the relevant institutions for Nkosi’s children’s education. This decision was made at Mbele’s behest because he does not live in a safe area, the organisation said. But Mbele still has access to the funds.

“Where I stay, I won’t lie, it’s been everywhere, on Twitter, in Khayelitsha, and this thing’s too public, now everyone knows me. So I thought it would be a great idea,” Mbele told EWN about his decision.

Twitter users called BackaBuddy’s processes out saying the money should be paid directly into Mbele’s personal account.  

“What manner of sociopathic, paternalistic & entitled white saviour complex is this? It sullies the goodwill of those that gave money TO and FOR Nkosi. I am appalled,” Twitter user Otillia Anna MaSibanda tweeted.

One donor tweeted that they were donating the funds to Mbele in the hope that he would receive and administer these funds himself.

One Twitter user highlighted a previous campaign where money donated to Daryl Kotze, who was shot at 20 times while driving home from the airport, was transferred directly into his wife’s account.

BackaBuddy backs decision to administer the funds

Backabuddy NPC is a not-for-profit registered organisation in South Africa (2015/313483/08). The organisation does not manage donations received, BackaBuddy COO Catherine Du Plooy told The Daily Vox. It only provides an administration service whereby it transfers funds on the request of the beneficiary according to the beneficiary’s specifications.

The reason the post-campaign funds an administration service is to protect beneficiaries (as in Mbele’s case) and provide an added level of trust between donors and beneficiaries (not in Mbele’s case). For example, BackaBuddy will pay funds raised to study directly to the education institute. This silences potential questions around how funds are used.

On Sunday evening, Mbele asked the organisation to administer his funds, Du Plooy confirmed. BackaBuddy has received similar requests in the past. “We often pay institutions directly, the majority of our campaign creators ask us to do so,” Du Plooy said

Should Mbele request that the money be paid into his personal account, BackaBuddy would gladly oblige, CEO Patrick Schofield said. “To reaffirm, if Nkosikho would like his funds to be paid directly into his account, then they will be transferred in full. He has full control over how his funds are spent,” Schoefield said.

There is no charge for the post campaign administration process. However, the NPO charges a 5% fee on all funds raised. This goes towards BackaBuddy’s running costs and the development and maintenance of the platform, Schoefield said. The difference is made up through external donations and funding.

There is also an additional fee charged by each payment channel provider which is deducted by that payment channel provider. The payment channels that Backabuddy provides are: EFT, instant EFT, local credit card, international credit card, and PayPal.

BackaBuddy has arranged for Mbele to meet with Luvuyo Rani, head of the Khayelitsha Business Forum, who commands a lot of respect in his community, Du Plooy confirmed. Rani will also guide the organisation with additional support it needs to provide for Mbele to fully empower him.

Shell South Africa responds in charity

Shell chairman Hloniphizwe Mtolo has thanked Mbele for his act of kindness, pledging to donate R500,000 to a charity of Mbele’s choice. Mtolo also nominated him for an internal excellence award.

The Shell Excellence Awards will be held in Zanzibar in July 2019.

Mbele told TimesLIVE on Tuesday he still couldn’t believe it and was “so grateful” to Shell for pledging money to a charity of his choice. Mbele has yet not yet decided on the charity.

“God is good, if it comes from your heart, you will be rewarded and I am just so thankful,” Mbele said.