Vodacom would "close shop tomorrow" if it paid Please Call Me claim

Vodacom "can't go near" the R70 billion Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate is demanding.

Vodacom stands by its R49 million offer to Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate saying:

“We are willing and ready to pay Mr Makate the amount of compensation that has been determined by the Vodacom group CEO as reasonable and fair compensation. Mr Makate is taking the group CEO’s decision on judicial review, if that is the case we will participate in the process and make our case before the judiciary.”

Nkosana, however, has described this offer as “shocking and an insult”, demanding R70 billion - almost a third of the company’s market cap. 

Vodacom has responded: 

“We certainly not going to go anywhere near R70 billion. Mr Makate’s claim is against Vodacom South Africa and the service revenue of Vodacom South Africa is about R54 billion. If we were to pay R70 billion, it means Vodacom South Africa must close shop tomorrow.”

Vodacom has become the target of protests and online fury after Nkosana took to social media to deride the settlement figure settled on by Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub.

In 2000, the then 24-year-old Nkosana filed a civil case against the Vodacom, accusing the company of failing to compensate him for his Please Call Me idea. 

Vodacom’s head of product development at the time, Phillip Geissler, had verbally promised him compensation. However, once Nkosana filed the civil case, Vodacom denied that he had invented the Please Call Me service and been promised remuneration. 

In April 2016 Nkosana’s last-ditch appeal to the Constitution Court was found in his favour, bounding Vodacom by the agreement undertaken by Phillip. The company was ordered to negotiate “in good faith” with Nkosana to “determine reasonable compensation.” 

This is what Vodacom believes it has done, and the company now considers the case closed. The ongoing protests tell another story.