Vodacom calls on appeals court in 'call me' battle

22 July 2020 - 06:38
By Isaac Mahlangu AND Isaac Mahlangu
Nkosana Makate. /Tshepo Kekana
Image: Tshepo Kekana Nkosana Makate. /Tshepo Kekana

The battle between Vodacom and "Please Call Me" inventor Nkosana Makate looks headed for another courtroom showdown, this time in the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The mobile communications company has lodged a notice to appeal the recent judgment in Makate's favour.

Last month the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered that Makate be furnished with parts of a 2008 forensic report by KPMG and other contracts with other service providers that render revenue-generating value added services.

That outcome marked yet another victory by Makate in court, in his protracted battle with Vodacom over rights and remuneration for his creation of "Please Call Me" product almost 20 years ago.

Judge Jody Kollapen had given Vodacom 21 days to give Makate copies of financial records, other value added services contracts it had with other service providers, including those involving prepaid recharge, bulk messaging, Look4Me service and the 082-911 emergency service.

In a notice of application for appeal filed on Monday, Vodacom indicated that it would appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein Free State, or before a full bench of the high court in Pretoria as it believes that Kollapen may have erred in agreeing with Makate.

The cellphone giants indicated that they would argue that Kollapen should have found that "in the absence of the first respondent (Makate) having made out a case for the production of specific and identified contracts in his founding and replying affidavits, the first respondent was precluded from simply preparing the draft order containing a wish list of contracts never previously referred to".

Vodacom also indicated that its argument would be based on "given the failure by (Makate) to have identified all the contracts in his affidavits", Vodacom has been deprived "the opportunity of producing evidence establishing whether and to what extent all or any of the contracts existed and their relevancy".

When approached for comment yesterday, Makate said his lawyers were still studying Vodacom's court papers.

"The legal team will be assessing this intention to appeal in the coming days, however, we are most likely going to oppose it," Makate said.

Last year, Makate indicated that he believed that Vodacom owed him around R20bn for his invention.

The figure, he had said, reflected a 5% share of an estimated R205bn revenue generated from the Please Call Me service, including interest calculated over an 18-year period.

He rejected the cellphone giant's latest compensation offer, which was made in January last year, of R47m before heading to court demanding all documentation CEO Shameel Joosub had relied on to decide on the amount.

Vodacom also indicated that it was also opposing the cost order granted to Makate in Kollapen's judgment.