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‘Disappointed’ Vodacom to appeal Please Call Me judgement

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 07 Feb 2024
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO.
Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group CEO.

Vodacom says it is disappointed and saddened by the latest Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in the Please Call Me matter, vowing it will appeal the judgement before the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

This, after the telecoms operator suffered another loss in the legal battle, when the Supreme Court of Appeal this week ordered Vodacom to determine a new compensation for 'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate – within 30 days of the order.

According to court documents, Vodacom must pay Makate between 5% and 7.5% of the total voice revenue generated by the Please Call Me service, derived from prepaid or contract offerings from March 2001 to March 2021 (18 years), including interest.

Makate is also entitled to 27% of the Please Call Me messages sent daily as being revenue generated by the return calls, notes the ruling.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub is also obliged to make a fresh determination “of the annual effective rate", which should be a blend of the effective contract rate and effective prepaid rate, to help determine Makate’s compensation. In each case, the respective rates are not to be less than those determined by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, according to the ruling.

In a statement sent to ITWeb, Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy explains: “Vodacom is surprised and disappointed with the judgement and will bring an application for leave to appeal before the Constitutional Court of South Africa. In line with a 2016 Constitutional Court order, Vodacom’s CEO determined reasonable compensation of R47 million to Makate for the Please Call Me idea.”

This week’s Supreme Court of Appeal order set aside the R47 million offer made by Joosub.

This, after Makate had previously rejected the R47 million offer and brought an application to the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa to have the Vodacom Group CEO’s determination judicially reviewed and set aside.

On 8 February 2022, the High Court set aside the group CEO’s determination and ordered him to reconsider the settlement offered to Makate.

Vodacom on 25 February 2022 launched an application for leave to appeal against the judgment and order of the High Court.

Makate and Vodacom have been embroiled in litigation over the ‘Please Call Me’ product for over 15 years.