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Vodacom seeks Please Call Me gag

Vodacom says Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate has breached their secrecy deal.
Vodacom says Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate has breached their secrecy deal.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate and Vodacom are back in court today as the cellphone giant tries to force him not to disclose details of their ongoing settlement negotiations.

Vodacom and Makate are in protracted settlement negotiations which were escalated to the company's CEO, Shameel Joosub, following two years of failing to reach an agreement.

Two weeks ago, Vodacom made an urgent application to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria seeking to stop Makate from "disclosing information and/or documentation to media and third parties".

This follows media reports about their failed negotiations and Vodacom offering him just R10-million for his idea, believed to have raked in billions for the cellphone giants.

The two parties had began negotiating after the Constitutional Court ruled in April 2016 that Makate be recognised by Vodacom for his Please Call Me idea, following years of legal battles.

Now, in court papers, Vodacom's chief human resources officer, Matimba Mbungela, argues that Makate breached their confidentiality agreement by granting interviews to the media.

"Immediately prior to the commencement of the face-to-face negotiations, the applicant's legal representatives advised the respondent's legal representatives that the applicant was of the view that the negotiations ought to be conducted on a strictly confidential basis," Mbungela stated.

He accused Makate of having "imparted confidential information relating to the negotiations", including in a Sowetan article last month in which a R10-million offered to him by Vodacom was disclosed.

"The manner in which the respondent discussed the applicant's offer of R10-million was designed to create support for the notion it was a wholly inadequate and contemptible offer," Mbungela argued.

In his responding papers Makate undertook to respect the confidentiality agreement.

"I, however, have no control over what the media can obtain from other processes and also not over information which is in the public domain," Makate stated.

He denied ever contravening any undertaking but voiced his frustrations over the process of negotiating with Vodacom for a settlement.

"I do, however, want to state it has been extremely difficult to obtain a date for the submission to the CEO of the applicant and up to signing hereoff, we have not been able to finalise the same," Makate says.

"The 'Please Call Me' concept was invented by myself at the inception of the 21st century and I am still waiting to receive what is legally mine in terms of the proven agreement with the applicant."

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