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Please Call Me inventor: ‘I haven’t agreed on anything with Vodacom’

Nkosana Makate has rejected Vodacom’s undisclosed compensation amount, adding a new twist to the protracted battle between both parties.
Picture: Bloomberg

Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate said he has not reached an agreement with telecommunications giant Vodacom over compensation, more than two years after the Constitutional Court ordered that he must be paid.

“I would like to make it very clear that I have not agreed on anything with Vodacom. The amount that the Group CEO [Shameel Joosub] has determined is shocking and an insult,” Makate said in a Whatsapp message to Moneyweb.

Makate was reacting to a statement by Vodacom on Saturday that Joosub had decided on a “reasonable compensation” amount after both parties held the latest round of oral hearings in October 2018.  

Read: Vodacom pays ex-worker for ‘Please Call Me’ idea after deadlock

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy said Joosub had met with Makate’s legal representatives to convey “his decision and determination” on compensation and that Makate’s funds “will be transferred as soon as we have the banking account details.”

“Vodacom considers the matter as finally settled and closed,” Kennedy said in a statement. The company did not disclose the amount set for compensation, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties.

Makate’s disagreement with Vodacom over compensation for the Please Call Me invention adds another twist to what is shaping up to be a protracted battle between both parties.

Makate said he is currently being advised by his legal team on remedies available, which he will unveil in “the weeks to come”.

“Moreover, Vodacom has not apologised for their despicable conduct for the past 18 years as found by the Constitutional Court,” he said.

Talks between Vodacom and Makate have stalled since the court ordered on April 26 2016, that both parties enter into good faith negotiations to determine reasonable compensation for the Please Call Me invention. Please Call Me is a free service which enables a user without airtime to send a text to be called back.

The court order also enabled Joosub to arbitrate negotiations should a deadlock on compensation materialise.

Read: Constitutional Court orders Vodacom to compensate Nkosana Makate

and: How Nkosana Makate won the Please Call Me case

Talks began to deadlock in December 2017, paving the way for Joosub to assume his deadlock-breaking role, which involved receiving oral and written representations from both Vodacom and Makate’s legal team.

In theory, the matter has been settled as Vodacom and Makate have complied with the court’s order of entering compensation negotiations. But the actual compensation process is still pending.

Compensation amount

In complaints filed to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in April 2018 against Vodacom and its auditor PwC, for misrepresentation of annual financial statements, Makate said the telecommunications giant offered him R10 million as compensation.

This figure is believed to be lower than Makate’s legal fees, which are estimated to run in millions of rands, that he incurred for fighting Vodacom in court for more than ten years.

Makate’s legal representatives and a team of experts believe that his compensation runs into billions of rands. In one of his affidavits submitted to court, Makate’s team concluded in 2015 that the Please Call Me invention generated R70 billion in revenue for Vodacom.

Makate said he is entitled to a 15% share of the revenues as compensation (estimated to be up to R10.5 billion) – the percentage that was his agreement with Vodacom when he invented Please Call Me in 2000.

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No surprise.

What else would one expect from Vodacom?

The court SERIOUSLY erred in continuing to allow the Chairman of Vodacom to have the final decision on the amount to be paid to the Inventor.

This, after experiencing first hand the lying testimony and the deliberately drawn out legal proceedings (18 years!) by Vodacom, is no small error by the courts.

They essentially just rolled over and accepted this in-the-courts-face insulting behaviour. And in doing so have allowed the wisdom and backbone of the courts and its judicial officials to be brought into serious public question.

This issue of deciding on the quantum of damages to be paid to the Inventor must be immediately and completely taken out of Vodacom’s hands, AND influence.

Vodacom has acted in bad faith and with mean-spirited churlishness every step of the way.

This playbook must come to an end.

It is time the courts grew a pair, and showed the public that the courts are deserving of public confidence by not tolerating this egregious behaviour from unethical scumbags.

Might be the courts instead could employ some of those hard-balled Nigerian prosecutors who put MTN through the wringer??

Please read the last paragraph of the initial Vodacom ‘settlement’ article on Moneyweb written by Loni Prinsloo and released by Bloomberg on 11th January 2019 and then compare it to the one released to TimesLive a few hours later, which has been ‘amended’ somewhat. I wonder why?

If you knew that Loni Prinsloo (the Bloomberg journalist) is good friends on Facebook with one Byron Kennedy (Vodacom Head of Media and ex-Moneyweb director), things could start getting interesting in this long-running saga.

It could be very damaging for Bloomberg’s impartiality or credibility, if it’s discovered later that their media platform is being cynically used as a pawn by a couple of BFF’s to promote ‘fake news’ or one-sided stories, which benefit Vodacom and not the inventor of Please Call Me. This’article’released by Bloomberg to the media was plainly biased in the way that it was initially written and amended later. (it smacks of “I’ll write the story any way that you want Byron….” Loni.)

This is worthy of investigation, as Bloomberg is a respected media organisation that supposedly provides ‘credible’ information, which financial market pundits could rely on, when it comes to commenting on share price performance, risk for shareholders or the general health of businesses that they invest in. This case is so big that it is mentioned in Vodafone and Vodacom’s published financials for 2018. Why then wouldn’t it be material to their share price performance if this saga blew up in their faces?

Vodacom have been shown by their shabbiness and blatant dishonesty throughout this lengthy saga that they will use whatever means possible, to avoid doing the right thing at every opportunity. Hopefully they will realise that the media today is somewhat different than it was even 10 years ago. This young man has shown great courage to fight the good fight against a giant, and hopefully he will get justice eventually.

The Court of Public Opinion will surely judge Vodacom harshly. They will act swiftly to punish Vodacom where it hurts in the pocket (remember Momentum?), as it’s obvious that they are relying on their superior financial muscle to wear the little guy down. That strategy might not work this time, despite Loni and Byron’s best efforts…..

Get the popcorn out. This movie is just beginning.

Darwin Awards. Chlorinating The Gene Pool.

The Darwin Award of the millennium should go to the SA Constitutional Court on this matter.

The ‘please call me’ clown Nkosana Makate, is just that, a clown.

When he gave the “idea” to Vodacom (typical of a parasite brudda – let someone else pay for my call) – there was no/zero contract with Vodacom for ANY compensation.

In any functioning economy/society, this case would not even have gone past the legal secretary, let alone the highest court of a country.

Only when the “idea” seem to generate money – suddenly the clown (and his affirmative “legal” cohort) went for money; as always – other people’s money.

Firstly, there is a dispute how well the idea was developed when the clown made it, as Vodacom converted it into a functioning service – not the clown in question.

If there was a formal agreement with Vodacom, at the onset and if Makate was not happy, the clown was more than welcome to start his own cellphone company – that only offered a “please call me service” – I cannot wait to see how long such a cell-phone company will last. Probably as long as your average SA SOE remains profitable and financially functioning.

If Vodacom was my co – I would simply say: ‘Force me to pay a cent to this clown and I close the entire company – today’.

These stooges live in a distant universe where there is very little oxygen. Since 1992 (look up the Referendum in SA in that year), the rand has lost eighty percent of its value – making it near worthless (like Zimbabwe in slow motion) – yet these clowns terrorizes the few remaining functioning companies (in SA) like this.

Careful what you wish for!

All this needs is for this to be policized by getting the EFF involved. And they have already had a go at this last year.

One tweet by Julius and Vodacom could face a ruinous boycott overnight.

And that could be just on the merits of the case. No racist stuff needed, although I can’t see Julis ignoring that card. It’s just too tempting.

This is an election year. If Julius comes to see the ENORMOUS PR POTENTIAL here, and how he and the EFF could sort this out overnight (and he literally did that with Momentum}, and (for once) deservedly pocket many millions as a commission, this story will get VERY interesting. VERY quickly!

He will be be able to ROUNDLY stick all his usual targets in the eye, and everyone else will be very happy.

(Grabs popcorn)

Vodacom should have given him a mention in the company magazine to start off with, and then none of this would have been necessary.

Agreed. This guy is just greedy, plain and simple. So if Vodacom lost money with his idea, would he have paid for their loss? 2nd question; Did he state during his job interview that, should they ever profit from him working for them, they will have to pay extra than his agreed salary and big company benefits?

Is the idea to contribute to a company’s growth so foreign? He should feel good about his contribution and carry on – his greed is what is shocking.

I’m sure mechanics, at franchised car dealers, also feel done in when they see customers being charged R850+ per hour for their work and they look at their pay slips. But there’s a lot of holes to plug in running a big company – like the free coffee and drop off at work for customers and upkeep of gardens and toilets and to keep those massive glass shop fronts clean. And those fancy car lifts and tools and training isn’t exactly free to the company either.

It’s easy for people to get carried away by the company’s ‘profits’ while they should realise they are but one part in a big machine. All employees should contribute to a company- it is a privilege to work for a company that’s profitable and not thinking of retrenchments.

(I do advocate fair pay. It is just that I’m against greed – both from employees and employers alike.)

Here we have Byron Kennedy under the alias of JapieM, people. ***whistles****

Japie, it’s obvious from your comments above that you haven’t read the damning Con Court judgement against Vodacom in this case, which you can read here of you care to do so.

It makes interesting reading.

People are not grasping the value of an ‘idea’ properly. How much would the idea be worth if it was the ‘wheel’? It’s one of those ‘ideas’ that once you see it, it makes perfect sense and cannot then be ‘unseen’. His idea was the equivalent of a ‘wheel’ for Vodacom. It was so good that they realised after the 1st day it was launched and 130,000 peopled started using it, that they realised that they were onto a winner, with very little effort on their part. They knew that it was going to be massive!

So what did they do about Makete and the deal that he had with Vodacom director that agreed to give him a share of the revenue once it was launched?

They created a ‘false narrative’ that the then CEO Alan Knott-Craig ‘invented’ it and they did everything in their power to prevent Makete from getting what was due to him. Becaus it was making billions for Vodacom, they had to take that course of action and to this day, he has not received 1 cent from them for his idea. Disgraceful!

Vodacom argued that they couldn’t ‘calculate’ how much Makete was due for his PCM ‘idea’, and as they didn’t charge for the service, he was entitled to a pittance. McDonalds could argue that the toys that they include in their Happy Meals generate on direct income for them, but every parent knows
that the toys are the ‘catalyst’ for the kids to drag them into the stores to spend their hard-earned cash.

I’m sure that Vodacom knows exactly how much of a ‘catalyst’ and huge money-spinner that PCM was for their business, as they implemented it in many other countries, which is still being used to this day.They say that they have no clue how much money they made, but it runs into many billions over 18 yeas. Think of all the advertising revenue that they generate on SMS ads that are included with the PCM notification.

Maybe someone should approach PWC and ask them to release their forensic report that they did for Vodacom on PCM, which they have refused to release because of ‘client confidentiality’. (Gupta anyone?)

Try and separate the ‘facts’ from the ‘fake news’ in this case. This guy deserves the people’s support.

Can you believe that such a large organization really wants to do a little guy in and openly steal from him while making billions!! Once again Vodacom leadership has clearly demonstrated their lack of integrity. Isn’t it funny how this lack of integrity comes out in every aspect of their business!! Vodacom is the epitome of lack of integrity!!
Why deal with Vodacom??

I thought that he was an employee when he developed the idea. No matter how brilliant an idea he was not an independent party selling the idea so why should shareholders fund an extortioba amount as a bonus. A R10m bonus is enough. It’s discretionary . There was no agree formula or meeting of the minds on quantum. And the chairman does have the right to say…enough and not more

Please read the damning Constitutional Court judgement handed down over 2 years ago against Vodacom here.

Makete’s ‘idea’ was the equivalent of ‘The Wheel’ for Vodacom, and it has been the ‘catalyst’ for billions of $ in revenue for them in many different countries over the last 18 years. It’s been the biggest money-spinner that they’ve ever had.

To date, Makete as not received 1 cent for his ‘idea’.

If this guy was Alan Knott-Craig’s son and he had the ‘idea’ guess what the outcome would be. “Big payday for my clever boy!”

Please read the damning Constitutional Court judgement handed down over 2 years ago against Vodacom here.

Makete’s ‘idea’ was the equivalent of ‘The Wheel’ for Vodacom, and it has been the ‘catalyst’ for billions of $ in revenue for them in many different countries over the last 18 years. It’s been the biggest money-spinner that they’ve ever had.

To date, Makete has not received 1 cent for his ‘idea’.

If this guy was Alan Knott-Craig’s son and he had the ‘idea’ guess what the outcome would be. “Big payday for my clever boy!”

Disgraceful conduct by Vodacom’s former CEO Knott-Craig, however it seems like Makate is far too greedy for his own good. I suppose he must be rather bitter from the lies and delays though.

Ubuntu_Babe, your spamming is more annoying than informative. Don’t think I’ve noticed you on Moneyweb before, yet now you’re responding to every post. Your claim about the idea of PCMs being “The Wheel” for Vodacom is not really realistic at all, let’s be honest. That said, do you have a link to how these “billions of $ in revenue” was calculated? Is it: revenue from PCM directed calls multiplied by 15% + advertising revenue from PCM messages multiplied by 15%? Does it take into account costs or any lost revenue from PCMs sent and calls not made? Obviously there are also many other factors to consider. I’d like to pass a critical eye over the “calculations”..

I am afraid that this is not an integrity issue. There was no bonus formula -its discretionary. The guy was an employee not an independent. Had he thought this through he could have resigned and approached Vodacom with the idea and an agreed payment or formula-he did not so was a mere employee with a right to a discretionary bonus.

Even the great legal minds of the great constitutional court could not find a number….

Sam, you are commenting on something without studying the Con Court judgement or the previous court cases on this matter. When you do, you will be better informed and can then make a meaningful contribution to the debate.

Makete ‘idea’ made billions $’s for Vodacom and the court ruled that he should be paid a ‘reasonable compensation’ for his idea (which was akin to a ‘wheel’ invention for Vodacom. He had an agreement with them, which they reneged on for as long as possible, until they were compelled to do so by the Courts. They are still trying to use their financial muscle to see this guy off, but they haven’t succeeded to date.

This is not a ‘half-pregnant’ situation. The guy hasn’t received 1 cent from Vodacom to date for his idea, whereas they continue to make billions from it.

I’m with the underdog on this battle.

Makate could end up with nothing if he continues stalling.

Still evades me how this guy can get anything really, any idea generated while being compensated belongs to the employer unless his employment contract left idea generation as part of his property but I find that very very unlikely.

Also, how do you determine the value of please call me? Surely it cannot be every call made after a please call me, also why would you use revenue as the compensation metric, it should be profit surely. Lastly, 15% is just a silly number.

Given the potential quantum, surely a simple manager could not enter into such a agreement and secondly, surely there would be some sort of contract, verbal agreements are legal in theory but so hard to prove and detail.

Overall, this guy should settle for like 20m and call it a day, clearly the courts are hesitant to get too involved because of the loose legals behind this and I can see him losing this overall.

I would LOVE to know what Makate’s legal bill is at this point. And the longer it gets dragged out, the bigger the legal bill. The biggest beneficiaries from this dispute is not Makate but his legal team(s)

There must be a few ambulance chasers in the wings supporting Makate’s and his court actions – no wonder he is trying to negotiate a huge payout

See my comments above and please read the damning Constitutional Court judgement handed down over 2 years ago against Vodacom here.

Makete’s ‘idea’ was the equivalent of ‘The Wheel’ for Vodacom, and it has been the ‘catalyst’ for billions of $ in revenue for them in many different countries over the last 18 years. It’s been the biggest money-spinner that they’ve ever had.

To date, Makete has not received 1 cent for his ‘idea’.

If this guy was Alan Knott-Craig’s son and he had the ‘idea’ guess what the outcome would be. “Big payday for my clever boy!”

You sound like a bot.

“The court order also enabled Joosub to arbitrate negotiations should a deadlock on compensation materialise.”

In which universe is it a good idea that an arbitrator should be one of the parties in the dispute, who has a vested interest to make the amount as small as possible? Poor work from the courts on this decision

Asking the Vodacom CEO to adjudicate on what the settlement for Makete should be for his PCM ‘idea’ is a bit like asking the fox to manage ‘security’ in the hen-house.

Not a wise decision for the chickens. 🙂

No doubt part of the issue is that the lawyers will take a large chunk of whatever he gets. Not sure what he negotiated with them. Anyway, if it was 50%, for arguments sake, R5 billion still sounds like a pretty good payday to me!

If Makete deserves compensation for his idea and not being an opportunist, his idea should have being written in black and white detailing the compensation due in the event of the success of the idea
in the absence of that Makete is an opportunist who is taking advantage of big company and gather sympathy as in the case of small guy versus big guy

This case has dragged on for years, which I like many others, have followed with some interest. Many of the commentators here have not even bothered to read the Constitutional Court judgement, which deals in some detail with all the hoops that Vodacom made Makete jump through, to thwart his efforts to get them to pay him for what was rightfully his idea. They made $billions as a result of revenues generated as a result of Please Call Me, so much so that they rolled it out in many other countries, where it is still being used to this day.

In the last 18 years, Makete has not received even 1 cent for his idea. For many years Vodacom tried every trick in the book to avoid accountability, for to admit that it was his idea, they would be open to paying him a tidy sum.

Hindsight is an exact science. If he was a clairvoyant he could have predicted what dirty tricks that they would play on him, but he isn’t.

Imagine Alan Knott-Craig lying that he was the guy who invented the PCM idea in his autobiography, when he knew full well that Makete owned the idea. Disgraceful. Vodacom and their representatives should hold their head in shame, for the way that they have behaved so far.

Ubuntu_Babe, you are so clearly linked to this case the way you are carrying on here, maybe the legal counsel?

The general public opinion that I have picked up on this is as follows: how can you be employed by a company, earn a salary for your contribution, and then expect any profitable contribution to be for your own pocket? This not only goes against common sense but CAPITALISM in general. I’m astounded it has gotten this far and that the courts have even entertained this garbage. He deserves zero, nada, nothing. I think this sets a ridiculous precedent in business.

Jan123, all you have to do a little research on this case to get a good understanding of what’s being argued here, which is in the public domain. This story has been running for the last 18 years.

Clearly from you comment above, you haven’t bothered to do that. Even if you read the Con Court judgement (which is quite interesting) you will be able to make a more informed opinion on the matter.

Vodacom have used their position to avoid compensating Makete anything for his idea, while they made $billions from it in South Africa and in many other countries. It’s outrageous.

so his free lawyers want more than the settlement, taken for a idiot

Vodacom’s deplorable conduct since the very beginning of this Please Call Me case reminds me of the ‘Stalingrad Strategy’ that Zuma adopted to avoid being ‘brought to book’ to answer charges of corruption, using a ‘bottomless pit’ of taxpayers money to delay things as long as possible, in the hope that the opposition would either run out of money, or grow tired of the fight for justice.

The reason that the Con Court made a ruling that the CEO of Vodacom should come up with a settlement if there was ‘deadlock between the parties’ was that Makete had previously requested in an earlier court case some years ago that the incumbent CEO of Vodacom, should decide on fair compensation for his idea, as Alan Knott-Craig had left the company. On that basis the CC had to accede to his request, which is presumably why the order was made, with unforeseen consequences for Makete.

With the help of their clever lawyers Vodacom came up with a strategy that would be seen to comply with the court. They still didn’t admit that the idea was Makete’s but they offered him R10,000,000 on the basis that it was linked in some way to AK-C’s CEO salary at the time. When Makete expressed his dissatisfaction with the offer, they went to court and got a gag-order to prevent him discussing anything with the media during the ‘negotiations’. He didn’t contest this and in the interest of co-operation he agreed not to speak to the media about any potential deal between the parties (which is still in force and plays into their hands).

Vodacom’s negotiating team dragged the matter out for another 2 years after the Con Court ruling, as it wasn’t in their interest to pay out any ‘substantial’ settlement and the matter became deadlocked, where the Vodacom CEO was required to step in and try and bring the matter to finality, by deciding what was a fair compensation for Makete. Presumably representation were made by opposing parties after he was required to use Solomon’s wisdom to come to a final settlement.

The boys at Vodacom must have had a good chuckle at the opportunity that they were presented with, where one of their own has to decide on compensation for Makete where they stole his idea, made $Billions on it and paid him nothing for it to-date. What a hoot!

I’m speculating on the strategy that they might have adopted to finally bring closure to this sorry saga. Remember that there is potentially billions of Rand at stake here, which they can use to pay for lots of legal advice, ‘consultancy’, ‘contingency payments’ and the like. It had to be carefully planned every step of the way.

It was crucial that Julius Malema and the EFF were ‘onside’, so that the wouldn’t ‘rally the troops’ against Vodacom, in the event that a derisory settlement offer was made to Makete. They were very mindful of the havoc that the EFF had caused to a number of Vodacom shops, when some journalist was due to speak at a Vodacom event.

Shortly after this happened the Vodacom CEO met with the EFF and they ‘came to some arrangement’ that the EFF would behave themselves, in return for something the the EFF wanted (probably ‘favours’ of some sort.) I’d be surprised if the Makete matter didn’t come up in the conversation between Shameel and Julius. Let’s assume that it did and Julius agreed to ‘call off the dogs’ and not get involved when any ‘settlement’ announcement was made. In return, he would probably want something substantial to look the other way. After all, it is election year and campaigns are expensive……..

Shameel goes back to his team and he tells them that “Julius and the EFF won’t give us any trouble on the Makete matter”. Byron Kennedy Vodacom’s media savvy sspokesperson (and ex-Moneyweb director) then calls up his BBF Loni Prinsloo at Bloomberg, with a request to ‘write a story’ for him that “Vodacom have announced a ‘settlement’ with Makete”. She duly obliged and wrote a ‘one-sided’ article which was initially released to Moneyweb. However, the later release to the Sunday Times and other publications were ‘sanitised’ and written more favourably to Vodacom. Suspicious?

Why as an ‘impartial’ journalist did she not ‘fact-check’ the story with Makete before she published? If she did, she would have realised that it was a ‘non-story’. After checking Loni Prinsloo’s Facebook page and seeing Byron Kennedy’s name listed as one of her friends it was easy enough to ‘fill in the blanks’ about what had probably transpired between them. Undoubtedly they had worked together on stories in the and he was more than an acquaintance to her. If Bloomberg was being cynically used in this way by Prinsloo and Kennedy in cahoots to publish ‘fake news’ it will seriously damage their credibility.

There is no way that Vodacom would risk going public on such a derisory settlement to Makete, without being 100% sure that Malama was ‘in the bag’ beforehand. (Maybe this is one for Sam Sole and the team at Daily Maverick to investigate further…)

Knowing now that Makete has refuted Vodacom’s ‘settlement’ claim why has Prinsloo not written an ‘impartial’ piece telling his side of the story. Surely this is as newsworthy as Vodacom’s version of events?

It could be worthwhile getting Julius Malema’s comments why he and the EFF team are so quiet on this matter. It wasn’t long ago when we were treated to Julius and Floyd grandstanding on TV and in the media about Pravin Gordon being corrupt. They could cause immediate mayhem for Vodacom (and their parent Vodafone) if they turned their ‘media-savvy’ guns on Vodacom, which Shameel and his cohorts are alive to this possibility. It would be ‘game over’ for them if this happened and the EFF were acting on behalf of an African child to get justice for him.

Why the silence now Mr. Malema……?

This story has got some way to go yet. Another bucket of popcorn please!


Never trust a politician. Or a businessman!

End of comments.





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