In a saga that has lasted for nearly 21 years, the inventor of “Please Call Me”, Nkosana Makate, has once again taken legal action to get what is owed to him – not the R47 million calculated by Vodacom, but rather closer to R10 billion, of no interest, he said.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria is presiding over Makate’s review request over the next three days.
As lawyers present their case from the offices of Menlyn Corporate Park, Judge Wendy Hughes hears the case virtually.
Armed with a strong team of senior lawyers, Makate said he was confident in the success of his candidacy.
The tribunal is urged to review the compensation offered to it as calculated by Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub.
This follows a decision by the Constitutional Court in 2016, when Vodacom was ordered to enter into negotiations with Makate to find fair compensation.
While it was fully agreed that Makate was liable for 5% of the proceeds generated by his invention, the disagreement lies in what constitutes income generated by the invention. This is an accounting exercise, his legal team told the court, and Vodacom was wrong.
This saga began in November 2000, when Makate – then a young trainee accountant at Vodacom – had a brilliant idea. At the time, Vodacom described the idea as “a world first” and acknowledged that it was all “thanks to Kenneth Makate,” said attorney Gilbert Marcus SC, one of the main lawyers at the Makate camp. .
“Makate was promised compensation. It is a common cause that Vodacom has made billions of rand thanks to the idea of Makate. Despite the success of the product, Vodacom refused to negotiate compensation for the use of the idea, ”Marcus said.
After several attempts by Makate to negotiate his compensation with Vodacom, he turned to the courts.
“The various judgments make it clear that for most of the past 20 years, Vodacom has sought to move away from paying Makate what it is owed,” Marcus said.
Camp Makate told Judge Hughes that the R47m compensation set by Vodacom should be reviewed and canceled.
According to them, this court should determine, taking into account the calculations sent to the court by Makate’s team, the amount.
This, they said, would avoid further delay in finalizing this legal process which has already taken the best part of a decade.
Alternatively, they argued, if that tribunal were to send the case back to the CEO, then the tribunal would have to impose more stringent constraints on the precise aspects that are referred to the CEO and on how the matter should be approached.
The Vodacom team, which opposes the request for review, is expected to submit its submissions on Wednesday.
News from Pretoria