Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

In a significant development for Kenneth Nkosana Makate, the creator of the ‘Please Call Me’ feature, the Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed Vodacom’s appeal with costs. The court has further mandated the cellphone network service provider to pay Makate a compensation amount ranging between 5 and 10% of the total revenue generated by the service over the past 18 years.

The protracted legal battle between Vodacom and Makate dates back to November 2000 when Makate, a former Vodacom employee, conceptualized the ‘Please Call Me’ feature. The court documents reveal that Vodacom now has 30 days to determine a fair compensation amount for Makate.

Makate’s invention, conceived over 20 years ago during a long-distance relationship, aimed to facilitate communication. Despite an initial promise of compensation by a former Vodacom chief executive, the company reneged on its commitment when the ‘Please Call Me’ service achieved success.

In April 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled in Makate’s favor, instructing Vodacom’s chief executive, Shameel Joosub, to assess reasonable compensation. However, the determined amount of R47 million was rejected by Makate, who, along with his legal team, argued for fair compensation ranging between R28 million and R110 billion.

Judge Wendy Hughes, in her ruling, criticized Joosub’s conservative calculations, deeming the offered R47 million inadequate for what she termed a “brilliant invention.” The ongoing legal battle between Makate and Vodacom has spanned nearly a decade since the Constitutional Court’s initial ruling, highlighting the prolonged quest for fair and reasonable compensation.

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