“Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate in court. Picture: Zelda Venter
“Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate in court. Picture: Zelda Venter

'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate wants closer to R10bn

By Zelda Venter Time of article published May 4, 2021

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In a saga that has been ongoing for nearly 21 years, the inventor of “Please Call Me”, Nkosana Makate, yet again turned to court to get what is owed to him - not the R47 million as calculated by Vodacom, but rather closer to R10 billion, without interest, he said.

The Gauteng High Court Pretoria, is presiding over Makate’s review application over the next three days.

While counsel are presenting their case from offices at Menlyn Corporate Park, Judge Wendy Hughes is hearing the matter virtually.

Armed with a hefty team of senior advocates, Makate said that he is confident about the success of his application.

The court is asked to review the compensation offered to him as calculated by Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub.

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

While it was all around agreed that Makate was owed 5% of the proceeds generated from his invention, the disagreement lies in what constitutes revenue generated from the invention. This is an accounting exercise, his legal team told the court, and one which Vodacom got wrong.

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”, Advocate Gilbert Marcus SC, one of the senior advocates in Makate’s camp, told the court.

“Makate was promised compensation. It is common cause that Vodacom has earned billions of rands from Makate’s idea. Despite the product being such an overwhelming success, Vodacom refused to negotiate compensation for the use of the idea,” Marcus said.

After various attempts by Makate to negotiate with Vodacom on his compensation, he turned to the courts.

“The various judgments make clear that for most of the last 20 years, Vodacom has sought to slither away from paying Makate what he is due,” Marcus said.

The Makate camp told Judge Hughes that the R47m compensation set by Vodacom should be reviewed and set aside.

According to them this court should determine, given the calculations forwarded to the court by Makate’s team, the amount.

This, they said, would avoid further delay in finalising this legal process that has taken the best part of a decade already.

In the alternative, they submitted, if this court were to refer the matter back to the CEO, then the court should impose more strict constraints on precisely what aspects are being referred back to the CEO and how the issue should be approached.

The team for Vodacom, who is opposing the review application, is expected to deliver their submissions on Wednesday.

Pretoria News

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