Please Call Me inventor now wants R10 billion

Johannesburg – Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate, is heading back to court to challenge a settlement offered by Vodacom, adding another twist to the battle that has drawn out for over 10 years.

  Makate is challenging the R47 million Vodacom offered him for the idea; which was determined by group CEO Shameel Joosub. Makate said Joosub offered him a settlement of R47 million during a January 9 meeting with lawyers from both parties; a figure he said was “inherently unfair”.

  Makate wants 5% of the total revenue, which his legal team calculated to be R205 billion; which Vodacom generated from Please Call Me, with interest, from March 2001.

  Makate wants the court to order that he is entitled to be paid 5% of total revenue that Please Call Me has generated from March 2001 plus accrued interest.

Makate believes that Vodacom owes him R10.2 billion, which excludes accrued interest and the legal fees incurred since the Constitutional Court judgment.

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

  Considering the R47 million settlement that Vodacom offered, Makate said: “It sounds like a significant sum of money, but it is in fact only 0.023% of the R205 billion call revenue Vodacom generated from 2001.

  “There is no sense in which an amount of 0.023% can be said to be a reasonable share of the revenue concerned, which can be up to 85% as in other instances,” he said.

  A Vodacom spokesperson said the company will oppose the court application.

  Vodacom recently rejected Makate’s claims about the Please Call Me service generating revenue running into billions of rands. Vodacom chief financial officer Till Streichert said the service was free for a limited promotional period when it was launched.

  “Vodacom resolved to shelve its plan to charge for the service when it enjoyed take-up in the market and its competitor MTN decided to launch a similar product. In other words, there was no direct attributable revenue as part of Please Call Me as it has never been charged for,” Streichert said.

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