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Vodacom suffers another court defeat in ongoing 'Please Call Me' legal battle

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Vodacom suffered another loss in its legal battle with 'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate after the high court in Pretoria dismissed its application for a variation of an earlier court order which compelled Vodacom to hand over other value-added contracts to Makate. File photo.
Vodacom suffered another loss in its legal battle with 'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate after the high court in Pretoria dismissed its application for a variation of an earlier court order which compelled Vodacom to hand over other value-added contracts to Makate. File photo.
Image: Bloomberg

Mobile communications giant Vodacom suffered yet another court defeat in its protracted legal battle with “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate when the high court in Pretoria dismissed its variation application on Friday.

Vodacom had hauled Makate to court in a separate legal battle to have a 2020 court ruling, which directed the company to hand him copies of contracts, amended.

This related to a ruling by the Pretoria high court in Makate’s favour on the release of records and other contracts with other service providers in income-generating initiatives with the company.

The court had given Vodacom 21 days to supply Makate with copies of value-added service contracts it had with other service providers, including those involving prepaid recharge, bulk messaging, Look4Me service, Mobile Trip Sheet, Vodacom PayPoint and the 082-911 emergency service.

Constitutional Court justice Jody Kollapen, who was still in the Pretoria high court at the time, had ruled that Makate should, on top of the copies of the contracts, be given parts of a KPMG report, dated November 3 2008, subject to a “confidentiality regime” which includes not passing it on to any third party.

'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate awaits a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment as Vodacom insists that the R47m he has rejected is fair and generous. File photo.
'Please Call Me' inventor Nkosana Makate awaits a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment as Vodacom insists that the R47m he has rejected is fair and generous. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell

Vodacom wanted the high court to reword the order it granted Makate because it was not in possession of all the contracts to avoid being in contempt of court. The company also applied for leave to appeal if the court did not grant the variation order.

However, that application was also dismissed on Friday.

Deputy judge president of the court Aubrey Ledwaba stated in his seven-page judgment: “I am of the view that the application by Vodacom to vary the order is to frustrate the implementation of the court order. The judgment and the order are clear and concise.

“On careful analyses of the applications before me, I am of the view that there no merit in the application for variation and it was not necessary to file such an application.

“In so far as the application's conditional notice for application for leave to appeal is concerned, there are no reasonable prospects of success.”

Both applications were dismissed with costs, which include the costs of two counsel.

The two parties are also awaiting judgment in the main part of their legal battle from the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, which heard their oral arguments in May.

Vodacom is appealing against a February 2022 ruling by then high court judge Wendy Hughes which gave the company one month to make “a fresh determination” to pay Makate.

Makate had taken Vodacom back to court after he rejected the cellphone giant’s compensation offer of R47m made in 2019.

The mobile communications company's contention in its appeal in the second highest court in the land was the application of what is termed the Bekker test, which Vodacom argued Hughes had failed to apply in her judgment which favoured Makate.

TimesLIVE

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