Judge Wendy Hughes would be presiding over the matter and is expected to review the determination by Vodacom on how much Nkosana Makate would receive for the idea he gave the company. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African news Agency(ANA)
Judge Wendy Hughes would be presiding over the matter and is expected to review the determination by Vodacom on how much Nkosana Makate would receive for the idea he gave the company. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African news Agency(ANA)

‘Please call me’ trial back in court

By Thabo Makwakwa Time of article published May 4, 2021

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DURBAN - THE 20-year “Please Call Me” court battle between Nkosana Makate and Vodacom is expected to go on judicial review in Gauteng from Tuesday until Thursday.

Judge Wendy Hughes would be presiding over the matter and is expected to review the determination by Vodacom on how much Makate would receive for the idea he gave the company.

Makate is the originator and brains behind the “Please Call Me” messaging service.

He told the Daily News that he was excited and confident that justice would be served in this last leg of his lengthy legal battle.

“I am upbeat that justice will reign. I have faith in our judiciary. I started to work for Vodacom as an intern on February 1, 1995, straight after matric.”

While working at the company as a trainee Makate proposed the “Please Call Me” idea in 2000. He pitched the idea and had a verbal agreement with the company’s then director of product development and management, Philip Geissler.

The concept was immediately taken up and the service was launched in February 2001.

When Makate never received payment for his idea, he laid a charge against Vodacom and won the case.

In 2014, a judgment in the South Gauteng High Court supported Makate’s claim that he originated the “Please Call Me” concept.

The high court found that the agreement between Makate and Vodacom was based on a share of revenue.

It also rejected former chief executive Alan Knott-Craig’s claim that he had come up with the idea of the messaging service.

In his book Second Is Nothing, Knott-Craig claimed to be the inventor of “Please Call Me”, and had lied under oath about being the creator of “Please Call Me”.

The high court judgment found against Makate on two technical aspects – prescription and authority.

This led to his failed approach to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Makate did not hold back, but approached the Constitutional Court which in 2016 ruled in his favour.

Justice Chris Jafta’s ruling upheld the high court’s judgment that there was a binding commercial agreement on revenue share, and overturned the judgment against Makate on prescription and ostensible authority, holding that Geissler had not had the authority to promise Makate such compensation and that a debt would have expired within three years.

The findings against Vodacom included that it had invoked apartheid legislation to prevent Makate from exercising the same right of access to court.

The trial was expected to be the last bid for Makate to settle the matter.

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Daily News

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