Midrand - Protesters gathered outside Vodacom's offices in Midrand on Thursday morning in an attempt to force the cellular service provider to pay Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate. The protest was organised by the #PleaseCallMeMovement, which has been vocal in its call for justice for Makate.
The cellular network giant was given until 10 am on Thursday to compensate Makate or face mass action. The deadline passed with no word on any settlement.
Makate has battled since 2007 to get the company to compensate him for the service. In 2016, the Constitutional Court ordered Vodacom and Makate to start negotiations for a reasonable settlement.
Vodacom's head of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Nkateko Nyoka, says Makate only presented "an idea" to the cellular service provider and the company then did all the work to make the service technically and commercially viable.
Speaking on radio on Thursday morning Nyoka said there was no legally binding contract between Vodacom and Makate.
Nyoka said that rivals MTN had introduced a similar service at about the same time and initially contended that they were the originators of the idea, but that this was never legally challenged. He says that Vodacom has offered Makate a "very generous" payout but that the former employee rejected their offer.
Earlier this month, the company said its chief executive Shameel Joosub had reached an agreement with Makate's lawyers on a “reasonable compensation” for the Please Call Me service. Makate has vehemently denied this.
Since then, support has grown for a call that Vodacom stores nationwide be shut down until Makate is compensated.IOL