Vodacom heads to Supreme Court after judge ruled R47m not enough compensation for ‘Please Call Me’ inventor

Nkosana Makate, inventor of Vodacom’s ‘Please Call Me’ product. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Nkosana Makate, inventor of Vodacom’s ‘Please Call Me’ product. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 13, 2022


Pretoria - It has been a journey of more than two decades for “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate to receive adequate compensation for his invention.

However, the fight is not over as the legal tussle will now be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal next year.

Vodacom is appealing against the judgment delivered by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in February ordering its CEO, Shameel Joosub, to go back to the drawing board to calculate exactly what Makate should get for his invention.

Judge Wendy Hughes made it clear in her ruling that the calculations used by Joosub in offering Makate R47 million for what she called a brilliant invention was by far too conservative.

But Vodacom will not budge and has turned to the Supreme Court.

Makate is meanwhile patiently awaiting this round of the legal challenge.

Both parties have now filed their legal arguments with the Supreme Court and are awaiting a date for the matter to be heard.

While Joosub initially determined that R47m was a reasonable amount for the invention, Makate earlier had this overturned, saying the compensation should be between R28 billion and R110bn.

Vodacom will argue that the court erred in remitting the issue back to Vodacom to recalculate what is owed to Makate.

Advocate Wim Trengove SC will also argue that Judge Hughes was wrong in adding directions in her judgment to Vodacom which the cellphone giant should follow in coming up with a new amount.

The Constitutional Court in 2016 ordered Vodacom to reach a fair and reasonable settlement with Makate. According to Vodacom, this was done when Joosub concluded that R47m was a fair amount of compensation.

It will be argued that Makate’s calculations as to what his invention is worth and the revenue it had generated for Vodacom are “grossly exaggerated”.

Makate’s legal team, however, will argue that accounting experts have demonstrated that R47m was nowhere near the agreed 5% of the revenue generated by the invention. According to the Makate’s counsel, Vodacom was wrong in its calculations and it thus, as ordered by the high court, ought to go back to the drawing board.

Advocate Cedric Puckrin SC, for Makate, will argue the invention has generated lots of revenue for Vodacom.

Pretoria News