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’Please Call Me’ inventor Nkosana Makate still awaiting verdict on R47m offer

Nkosana Makate, the ’Please Call Me’ inventor. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Nkosana Makate, the ’Please Call Me’ inventor. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 6, 2022


Pretoria - While it has been about eight months since judgment was reserved in the application by “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate to get what he claimed was owed to him, Makate said he was still waiting patiently for the verdict.

Speaking to the Pretoria News this week, Makate said he understood the delay by Judge Wendy Hughes to deliver the judgment, as she had meanwhile been appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal and was thus obviously extremely busy.

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“I have been patient and will continue to be so. I understand that Judge Hughes, after hearing my matter, was also promoted to the SCA and that this might impact on the delay in the judgment. But I am patient and will continue to be,” he said.

It is understood that the deputy judge president for the Gauteng High Court earlier indicated that the judgment will be delivered within two months – which expire on January 17.

It is expected that Judge Hughes will not only determine whether Makate is entitled to the more than R47 million earlier offered to him by Vodacom, but that she would determine what is in fact owed to him.

In the saga that has been going on for about 21 years, Makate turned to the high court in Pretoria in May last year to get what he claimed was owed to him, which he said was closer to R10 billion, without interest.

He asked that the R47m which Vodacom’s CEO Shameel Joosub claimed was owed to him be reviewed and set aside.

Makate at the time told the Pretoria News that he was confident about the success of his application.

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This followed a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2016 in which Vodacom was ordered to enter into negotiations with Makate to find fair compensation.

Advocate Gilbert Marcus in May argued on behalf of Makate that while he did not use the word “betrayal” lightly, this was such a case.

He said that while Vodacom was raking in huge profits from the invention and was “smiling all the way to the bank”, they left “no smile on Makate’s face”.

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Judge Hughes was told that although Vodacom at first regarded the invention as brilliant, when it came to compensation the cellphone giant sang a different tune.

This saga began in November 2000, when Makate – then a young trainee accountant at Vodacom – came up with a genius idea. At the time, Vodacom described the idea as “a world first” and recognised that it was all “thanks to Kenneth Makate”, Marcus said.

The idea was sparked when Makate, more than 20 years ago, had a long-distance relationship with his now wife, who was a student then. As communication was difficult at the time, he came up with the invention.

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Vodacom’s advocate , Wim Trengove SC, however, at the time counter-argued that the issue of what was reasonable compensation for a brilliant idea was “like asking what is the length of a piece of string – there is no obvious answer to this”.

The cellphone network giant is adamant that the R47m offered to Makate is “over generous”.

The court was told that when Joosub came to R47m, he did so honestly and to the best of his ability.

He kept an open mind and listened to submissions from both Vodacom and the Makate camp before he came to this amount. It was not an easy exercise, Trengove said during his arguments in May.

Pretoria News