'We don't trust your motives' - Vodacom to Please Call Me inventor

Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate.
Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Leading mobile communications company Vodacom has questioned Please Call Me (PCM) inventor Nkosana Makate's motives after he hauled it before the high court demanding financial records and statements. 

Makate, who rejected R47m compensation from Vodacom for his idea, following protracted negotiations which were even presided over by the company's CEO Mohamed Joosub. 

Makate is demanding access to various documents relating to financial records and the revenue that the company made from the Please Call Me service. 

Makate wants Vodacom to release its records and other statements that Joosub used and relied on to determine its proposed settlement figure offered to him in January last year. 

Advocate Richard Solomon, arguing in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on behalf of Vodacom, said Makate had all the time in the world during negotiations to ask for the documents.

"The time to request the documentation was there [during the oral negotiations] not now during the review process," argued Solomon.

"It's most unusual to come and try and claw back, getting a second bite of the cherry, in some way... if they had any difficulty that was the time [during the negotiations] to do it."

Solomon told the court that they were now questioning Makate's motives. 

"He [Vodacom CEO Joosub] invited litigants to place before him what they thought was necessary [during settlement negotiations] but they didn't take advantage of that," Solomon argued. 

Solomon offered to give judge Jody Kollapen access to a KPMG report, which is among the documents Makate wants, for the judge to see for himself that the report had "absolutely nothing to do with Makate's Please Call Me claim".

Kollapen asked Solomon if he would be prepared to extend the same courtesy to Makate's advocate Steven Budlender as well, and Solomon said he would need to first get an instruction from Vodacom on that.

Makate believes that access to some of Vodacom's financial records from 1997 to 2000 would allow him to have a clear picture of how much he should receive as a reasonable offer for his idea, which he believes the cellphone company generated billions of rands from. 

Makate has previously said that he believes that he deserves around R20bn as compensation for his idea. 

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