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Giving hope to the homeless is all Bi Phakathi is willing to give away

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Bi Phakathi has no intention of ever revealing his real identity.

George, a homeless man in Cape Town, was given a free makeover thanks to Bi Phakathi. Picture: Supplied

Johannesburg – Bi Phakathi has no intention of ever revealing his real identity.

Despite a growing social media campaign to unmask his identity, Phakathi, who has earned the reputation of being a hero to the homeless, refuses to budge on revealing his identity.

His reasoning is simple.

“In my book, a real hero is someone who hides their identity and does good deeds for no sort of recognition.”

Videos of Phakathi giving a helping hand to the homeless in the country, have gone viral on social media.

Thousands of videos have been uploaded on the Facebook page “Bi Phakathi”, which shows a man handing out money and groceries to the less fortunate.

He has also paid for makeovers for homeless people, paid university fees for students who can’t afford to pay their fees, and even helped reunite a homeless family.

His Facebook page has reached over a million followers, and he continues to garner support.

But he never reveals his identity.

Bi Phakathi is regarded as a hero to the homeless in SA. For the past few months, Phakathi’s videos of him giving a helping hand to the homeless went viral on social media. Picture: Supplied

“I understand being a public figure you end up being viewed as a celebrity, but I am not a celebrity. What I do is humanitarian work, the good deeds should be a priority more than the messenger.

“The homeless, the families that I help and the partners who make this job possible know who I am. For me to be invisible is for everyone to be inspired that if a man with no identity can help everyone, I can also do it and I have seen people sharing their stories and showing credit to the BI Phakathi figure.

“I have chosen not to reveal myself because it can drive the attention away from the purpose, which is to share good news and inspire people to help other people. If we can do more good as South Africans, then the world will be inspired to uplift the poor too,“ he said.

Most recently, Phakathi shared another clip of himself helping a homeless man, named Peter Smith reunite with his family. Smith had not seen his family in years because of his debilitating drug habit. He says he is clean now.

In the clip, Phakathi is seen speaking to Smith who wants nothing else but to be reunited with his daughter.

After buying him some food, Phakathi hands him some cash to travel back home where his daughter and his family are expecting him.

Phakathi says knowing his identity is not important.

“I don’t have anything special to celebrate and I’m not selling any merchandise or have music talent to be bought. All I want to see is everyone loving one another, helping one another, and showing the world it is possible to live together and share the little that we have as a global community.”

He is fascinated with the number of people on social media who want to know who he is, but he won’t give in.

“I am not surprised and it’s not even bothering me because I understand that when you are famous people want to see you, where you live, where you studied, who you know, how much your net worth is, are you married.

“That is too personal for me. I am just a messenger of good news, not a celebrity.”

Phakathi has been quite busy for the last few months travelling around the country to continue his work.

“I have been travelling in most provinces helping with wheelchairs, assisting families that are struggling and also helping students pay their fees. It has been quite a ride and I will appreciate any support to make this work possible.

“I have seen the public being more responsible and more Bi Phakathi’s are growing around the world doing what I do and it is a great thing.”

Asked if he would give the public a hint of who the man behind Bi Phakathi is, he says: “I am Mr nobody. I appreciate the love but I am not greater than the work we have to do.

“People need help, more people are suffering. With retrenchments, people are losing their houses and they’re hungry. Let us encourage more good deeds rather than making it a one-man show. This work should continue even when I am gone.”

Phakathi says his inspiration came from his faith as a Christian.

“It is my mandate as a Christian and law abiding citizen to help my neighbour. I have been blessed, therefore, I need to be a blessing. Every cent I get helps me to continue spreading the good news. My biggest drive is the smiles of the people and those who are inspired by what we do.

“We need more stories like this. The pandemic is destroying our normal living, we need to take care of one another and that is my goal.”

He adds that the greatest reward for him is seeing his mother’s reaction to it all.

“My mother loves what I do, and it blesses my heart to see someone who gave me life to see what its like to have a son following in his purpose to help people.”

Phakathi says he hopes to remain anonymous for good.

“I will appreciate it if I could remain anonymous, even now it is difficult as most people recognise me in shops when I am doing an outreach.”

“We do talk and share stories that touch their hearts, but being anonymous helps to make the work possible.”

The Saturday Star