Vodacom vanquisher targets rivals over Please Call Me
by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AFTER landmark Constitutional Court victory against Vodacom, the developer of the famous “Please Call Me” service, Nkosana Kenneth Makate is believed to be targeting the other mobile networks.
Makate, who is claiming 15 percent of revenue Vodacom had generated from the call-back service is set to rake in a cool R10,5 billion (about US$715 million).
A survey by Gauteng Guardian Business this week indicated residents’ support for Makate (39) to pursue action against Vodacom’s rivals, Cell C, MTN and Telkom.
Businessman, Njabulo Sikhakhane, tips Makate to take further his legal battle against these mobile operators arguing they also benefited from the man’s innovation.
“I believe Makate and his winning lawyer’s next move will be to target MTN, Cell C and Telkom because they also benefited from his innovation,” says Sikhakhane.
“I don’t think the three mobile networks would disagree, but will negotiate for reasonable billions. All the three have also made millions if not billions since implementing Makate and his wife’s innovation,” Sikhakhane tells CAJ News Africa.
A technology university graduate, Abel Mthembu, urges Makate to approach the three other mobile network operators to ensure he received his dues.
“However, I would suggest that he gives MTN, Cell C and Telkom an opportunity to determine what they could afford without fighting further legal battles,” says Mthembu.
Miyetani Chauke says if the other telecommunications companies attempt to be “stubborn and arrogant” as was displayed by Vodacom, Makate must seek legal redress.
“The battle has since been won. So, the three must just plead for lenience as opposed to Vodacom, who showed muscles and unnecessary arrogance.”
Chauke however does not foresee other operators resisting.
“However, if they dare refuse, he has to will do what he knows best by taking them to the court of law. He (Makate) already boasts billions,” Chauke said.
The mobile network operators had not responded to enquiries Guardian Business sent had sent them over weekend.
Makate’s victory at the Constitutional Court marked the end of a protracted 15 year legal battle with Vodacom from the lower courts, high court, supreme court and eventually the constitutional court.
He had fought for compensation from his former employer since 2001.
Makate’s girlfriend (now wife, Rebecca) was a student at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape and had no money for airtime. A long distancerelationship, the lack of airtime and several communication hurdles sparked
the idea for Please Call Me, the free service which enables a user without airtime to send a text to be called back.
Makate, then a Vodacom trainee accountant consulted his superiors about introducing the service.
The idea was captured in a proposal and concept document.
Negotiations then followed between Makate and Vodacom that the latter would use the “Please Call Me” and put the idea on trial for commercial viability.
In an oral agreement, executives agreed to pay Makate a 15 percent share of the revenues Vodacom would generate from the innovation if it was technically and financially viable.
Vodacom in 2001 went to market with “Please Call Me”, which was a game changer for South Africa’s fledgling telecommunication industry. Makate was however not paid since then.
– CAJ News
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