“Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African news Agency (ANA)
“Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African news Agency (ANA)

'Please Call Me' inventor back in court over Vodacom’s R47m offer

By Zelda Venter Time of article published May 3, 2021

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Pretoria - The inventor of “Please Call Me”, Nkosana Makate, will be back in court this week to face Vodacom again over the offer of R47 million the cellphone giant made to him for coming up with the concept.

Makate has squared off against Vodacom on several occasions in court. He is not accepting Vodacom’s offer, claiming his concept is worth billions. He will turn to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, tomorrow to review Vodacom’s offer.

Vodacom claims it does not owe him more than the offered R47m, as the “Please Call Me” is a free service, which does not generate an income.

Leading up to this week’s review application, Makate last year successfully turned to court for Vodacom to provide him with documents on which they based their decision to grant him R47m. He wanted to obtain some financial statements and copies of contracts the cellphone giant had concluded with other service providers to see what they had earned from his invention.

He scored his first victory relating to the review application fight when Judge Jody Kollapen ordered that Vodacom hand copies of several contractual documents to him which it used in determining the compensation.

It was ordered that he had to receive copies of all underlying data and financial information for the period 2001 to 2018, which Vodacom used when it determined what was owed to Makate. The documents included financial statements and copies of contracts the cellphone giant concluded with other service providers to see what they had learnt from Makate’s invention.

Makate has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Vodacom for more than a decade following his invention of the “Please Call Me” service.

He presented the idea to Vodacom in 2000, but was never given recognition. Vodacom’s chief executive at the time, Alan Knott-Craig, claimed to be the inventor.

The Constitutional Court in April 2016 declared Makate the inventor and ordered that Vodacom had to negotiate in good faith with Makate to determine reasonable compensation to him. The court ordered that if the parties failed to agree on reasonable compensation, Vodacom’s chief executive had to determine the amount.

Negotiations between Makate and Vodacom failed and the chief executive stepped in and declared that R47m was a reasonable amount.

Vodacom and its chief executive refused to give Makate the documents he asked for. It was argued they did not have some of the documents, as they did not exist, and that other documents, such as agreements with other service providers and financial statements, were confidential.

But they were forced to hand them over to him following Judge Kollapen’s judgment.

Pretoria News

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