Their usual stop to refuel in a Karoo town took an unusual turn for a Johannesburg mother-of-two recently, resulting in a video of a singing petrol attendant going viral.
Dubbed the Karoo petrol attendant with a voice like Pavarotti, Mthetheleli Gxoyiya has become an internet sensation – and a celebrity in the town of Cradock – thanks to his operatic voice.
The video has been shared more than 600 times from the HeraldLIVE Facebook page and has reached more than 270 000.
Heidi Valentine-Oatway and her family were returning to Johannesburg from her hometown, Grahamstown, when they stopped at the Total garage in Cradock on August 9 to fill up.
“That’s when I heard this amazing baritone voice. We were listening to classical music in the car so at first I thought it’s the radio but then I realised that it’s one of the petrol attendants singing,” Valentine-Oatway told The Herald on Tuesday (16/08/16).
“We drove off but then I told my husband, James, the petrol attendant’s voice touched my heart strings. I knew I would regret not recording him (I didn’t know his name then).”
Her husband James Oatway – an award-winning former Sunday Times photographer – turned back so she could record the singing attendant with her iPhone 6.
“There were a few petrol attendants standing around. I asked them who sang so beautifully. That’s when this guy identified himself. I then asked his permission to record his singing. He agreed,” she said.
“After the recording I asked for his personal details. I told him I will try my best to let the world know what a talented individual he is and hopefully someone influential will help him. I come from a musical family so I immediately knew that he had a gift and needed to be heard.”
Valentine-Oatway posted the video and her story on Facebook the next day.
“I took a chance when I posted the video on social media to try and help Mthetheleli get assistance from someone professional in the music industry to achieve his dream of becoming an opera singer,” she said.
“Total SA is now aware of their talented employee. A few newspapers and radio stations have run the story online. But to my knowledge no one has come forward to help Mthetheleli as yet. I sincerely hope there is someone influential out there who can help Mthetheleli. That will make me extremely happy if I hear that he has succeeded one day.”