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Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

SA’s largest mobile operator says it will fight the latest judgment in the long drawn-out case over the invention of Vodacom’s Please Call Me service.

The high court in Pretoria gave Vodacom one month to make “a fresh determination” on compensation to Please Call Me  inventor Nkosana Makate.

Makate has battled Vodacom in court for two decades for compensation for his idea that gave rise to the Please Call Me service that allows a cellphone user without airtime to send an SMS to request a return call from another subscriber.

The ruling, delivered electronically on Monday, comes after Makate took Vodacom back to court after he rejected the cellphone giant’s compensation offer of R47m which was made in 2019.

Vodacom appears unhappy with the court’s decision for it to relook at compensation for Makate, promising to fight this week’s decision. 

A spokesperson for the company said: “Vodacom confirms that it will appeal the high court judgment and order on the Please Call Me matter, delivered by Justice Wendy Hughes on February 7 2022.”

Makate regards the ruling as a big victory in the courts. 

“I believe this latest judgment takes us nearer to the finishing line,” he said. “It opens up the clouds and gives us more clarity. This judgment further enforces the judgment of the Constitutional Court [in April 2016],” he said.

In her judgment, Hughes ruled that “the determination (R47m) by the CEO is referred back to Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub who is obliged to make a fresh determination with the following directives: the applicant (Makate) is entitled to be paid 5% of the total voice revenue generated from the Please Call Me product from March 2001 to March 2021.

“Total voice revenue includes Please Call Me revenue derived from prepaid, contract (both in bundle and out of bundle) and interconnect fees as set out in the second respondent’s annual financial statements,” the judgment said.

Vodacom says it remains of the view that its negotiations with Makate “were held in good faith, as determined in the order of the Constitutional Court issued on April 26 2016.” /With Sowetan

gavazam@businesslive.co.za

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