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Please Call Me matter back in court for review

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 04 May 2021

Nkosana Makate, the inventor of Please Call Me, is back in the North Gauteng High Court, seeking a review of the R47 million compensation offered by Vodacom for his creation.

Speaking outside court today, Makate said the offer is “maliciously intended to bankrupt him”.

The court is set to hear arguments from both parties over the next three days.

Makate has accused Vodacom of falsifying information in a bid to deny him fair compensation for his creation, alleging the mobile operator had set aside R63.4 billion as potential reward due to him for the popular invention.

Makate’s invention enables a user without airtime to send a text to be called back by another subscriber.

According to Makate, Vodacom owes him a settlement of R10.2 billion, which excludes accrued interest and all the legal fees incurred since the Constitutional Court judgement. He wants Vodacom to pay him a settlement that takes into account his legal fees.

Makate said his legal team has calculated that Please Call Me has earned Vodacom R205 billion in call revenue from 2001 to 2020 (a forecast), which excludes, among other things, advertising revenue linked to the innovation.

Vodacom denied this claim, saying it did not provide R63 billion for that matter, because the Constitutional Court did not set the quantum of the amount of money payable to Makate.

It added that the court directed the parties to negotiate in good faith to agree a reasonable amount of compensation payable to Makate.

Nonetheless, speaking to Newzroom Afrika outside the court today, Makate said: “I think that’s contrary to the truth; Vodacom knows the value Please Call Me added to the telecoms industry, not only Vodacom. It has been pivotal programme for Vodacom for many years; it has been exported to Vodafone and all their operations.

“They know its value; this stance was taken simply because I am in the picture. I think it’s about me an as individual; it has to boil down to that. Even though we don’t talk about it much, it looks like there is no love lost between me and Vodacom.

“I think mentally I am much stronger; emotionally, I have survived; and financially, it has cost me a lot. They are trying to bankrupt me, it’s malicious and we will deal with that in papers before the court. I trust the judiciary.”