'He's obviously lying' - Nkosana Makate adamant he invented Vodacom's 'Please Call Me'

Nkosana Makate.
Nkosana Makate.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

"Please Call Me" inventor Nkosana Makate has rubbished claims by Vodacom that he did not invent the idea. This follows an opinion piece by Vodacom’s head of legal and regulatory affairs Nkateko Nyoka.

Makate said the Vodacom executive did not know what he was talking about as he was not working for the mobile network mobile company when the idea was conceptualised.

He also said former the Vodacom CEO Allan Knott-Craig had admitted in court papers that the cellphone network provider had been the first to come up with the idea in the country.

“That is false. It is false. He's obviously lying. I tweeted about it today (Monday) regarding the testimony of Alan Knott-Craig when he was in the box, under oath, when he said himself that MTN copied the idea from Vodacom. That Vodacom was the first [to come up with the concept],” Makate told Sowetan.

Makate was replying to an opinion piece written by Nyoka, in which he said MTN had come up with the idea and that Vodacom had merely duplicated it.

According to Nyoka, MTN launched its idea a month before Vodacom.

Nyoka said Vodacom had complied with the Constitutional Court’s finding in favour of Makate even though the idea did not belong to Makate. The court had earlier overturned a high court ruling that had found in Vodacom’s favour.

“The Constitutional Court, on appeal, subsequently found that there was an agreement between Vodacom and Mr Makate, but noted that an outstanding contractual term - the price to be paid for Mr Makate’s idea - still had to be negotiated. Accordingly, it instructed Vodacom and Mr Makate to enter into negotiations, in good faith, to agree on ‘reasonable compensation payable to him'."

He said that the instructions from the Constitutional Court were complicated by the fact that MTN had come up with the idea and they did not make any money from the idea since it was used freely. “Please Call Me was an idea, but not an original one. It had already been invented and subsequently patented by MTN. In fact, MTN launched its version, called Call Me, the month before Vodacom did,” wrote Nyoka.

Makate rubbished this and said Vodacom had admitted in court that MTN did not have a similar product.

“Even the product development document that was in court written by Pambos Soteriades, who was supposed to be an expert witness for Vodacom, clearly states that MTN did not have a similar programme,” said Makate.

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