Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist


‘They generated billions’, says ‘Please Call Me’ inventor as Vodacom vows to appeal ruling

Nkosana Makate previously rejected Vodacom’s offer of R47 million in 2019.


Telecommunication giant Vodacom has confirmed it will appeal the judgement in its battle against ‘Please Call Me’ inventor Nkosana Makate.

This comes after the Pretoria High Court ruled on Tuesday that Makate is entitled to 5% of Vodacom’s revenue generated from his invention from March 2001 to March 2021.

The court also ruled that Makate is entitled to 27% of the revenue generated by the return of calls sent through the Please Call Me platform.

In her judgment, Judge Wendy Hughes ordered Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub to calculate and make a determination on how much is owed to Makate within one month.

Appeal

Vodacom has since indicated it will appeal the judgment, arguing that its R47 million payout offer to Makete was fair.

“Vodacom remains of the view its negotiations with Mr. Makate were held in good faith, as determined in the order of the Constitutional Court [ConCourt] issued on 26 April 2016,” the mobile communications company told The Citizen on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Vodacom gets court order to gag Please Call Me inventor

Makate first laid a claim in court in 2015 for millions of rands from Vodacom for the successful service that the company introduced in 2001, which allows cellphone users to send a free message to another user requesting that they be called back.

The Constitutional Court in 2016 ordered Vodacom to pay their former accountant for coming up with the concept.

Protracted negotiations ensued between the two parties, but failed to reach a settlement.

The Please Call Me inventor rejected Vodacom’s offer of R47 million in 2019.

‘Vodacom has generated billions’

Speaking to eNCA, Makate noted Vodacom’s intentions to appeal the ruling.

“I guess one would expect it from Vodacom and the kind of battle that we have had over the years that is the route that they would take. They are entitled to an appeal… they can appeal to higher courts.

“Every litigant [or] citizen has a right to appeal and we will have to take that as it comes, but [this] also displays that when you have huge balance sheets you can actually go to court as many times as you like,” he said.

The Please Call inventor said he believes the court made a fair ruling, further saying he would be ready when Vodacom files its papers.

“We understand this to be a very solid judgement [Judge] Wendy Hughes, and I think we will also await to see the appeal papers when they come to us.

READ MORE: Vodacom’s denial of ‘Please call me data’ is ‘quite absurd’ says former accountant

“We don’t have anything… we don’t even have the intention, [but] I am sure it will come when times comes and we will be ready for it,” he continued.

Makate, however, refrained from commenting on how much money he is expecting Vodacom to pay him.

“Let me not be drawn into any amounts… let’s allow the CEO [of Vodacom] to go do his calculations. We have always contended that we need a fair compensation in this matter based on accurate revenues.

“We have placed the facts of those revenues before court. I mean Vodacom is on record [because the company] in 2016 [or] 2015 said they have generated billions out of this,” he added.

The Citizen previously reported that Makate argued in his papers he should be getting closer to R10 billion – plus interest.

Additional reporting by Getrude Makhafola and Bernadette Wicks