R47m offer to ’Please Call Me’ inventor overly generous - counsel
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Pretoria - While it has been a difficult exercise, the determination that “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate is entitled to R47 million, is fair.
If anything, he had been overly generous, the counsel for Vodacom chief executive Shameel Joosub, said in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday.
His counsel started arguments on his behalf following a day and a half of presentations by the Makate camp.
The court listened to the second day of arguments, during a virtual hearing, in which Makate is asking that the R47m offered to him by Vodacom be reviewed and set aside.
Joosub was not opposing the application, but said he would abide by the outcome of the court, while Vodacom was opposing the review. Arguments on behalf of the cellphone giant were due to be delivered today.
It was argued that Joosub considered both models presented to him at the time by all parties to find a fair solution, but he determined Makate’s model to be flawed, which he said consisted of unrealistic numbers.
Joosub questioned, among others, the number of Please Call Me messages, the call rates and the duration of the responding calls on which Makate’s models were based.
It was argued that, on each of the chief executive’s models, he tried to be generous in his assumptions.
Judge Wendy Hughes questioned Joosub’s counsel about some of the calculations in his models, for which there was no concrete proof. She questioned whether it was “just plucked from the air”.
While it was agreed Makate was entitled to 5% of the revenue generated by Vodacom following his invention, it was all about calculations and how the amount owed to him should be quantified.
On the first day, advocate Gilbert Marcus SC, told Judge Wendy Hughes that she must determine what was owed to Makate and put an end to the saga that had been running for more than 20 years.
While Joosub came to the conclusion that R47m was a fair amount, the Makate camp was of the opinion that closer to R10 billion was more to the point.
This week, Marcus argued that, in the light of how Vodacom has dealt with the matter in the past, it would be inappropriate to send the matter back to the chief executive to determine a new amount.
But, he said, if the judge chose to remit the matter back to Vodacom, she should issue strict guidelines on how the chief executive should exercise his powers.
Advocate Cedric Puckrin SC, who took over the legal arguments on behalf of Makate, argued it was “mind-boggling” that Vodacom did not exactly know how much it had made from Makate’s invention.
The parties, among others, differ on how much is generated after a person has sent a Please Call Me message and the receiving party responded by phoning back.
While Vodacom could not give an exact time on how long the calls lasted, it said it was less than two minutes, while the Makate camp said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa data showed that it was usually longer than two minutes.
Puckrin asked the court saddle Vocadom with the legal costs pertaining to this battle, including the cost of several experts which Makate consulted in his legal bid.
“He had to fight fire with fire and he thus had to hire a host of experts,” Puckrin said.
Arguments on behalf of the chief executive will continue today, after which Vodacom will present its case. Its advocate, Wim Trengove SC, said he would argue for an entire day.
It was agreed the proceedings would run into tomorrow.