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We could’ve handled ‘bitter battle’ with Makate better, admits Vodacom

In 2006, the Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom and Nkosana Makate determine an amount which he is compensated for his invention when he was still an employee.

FILE: Nkosana Makate. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Vodacom has acknowledged it could have handled the bitter battle with “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate better.

In 2006, the Constitutional Court ruled that the cellphone giant and Makate together determine an amount which he is compensated for his invention when he was still an employee.

The talks deadlocked in 2018 which resulted in the Vodacom CEO, as per instruction of the apex court, determine an amount which he believes is reasonable.

Vodacom's Saki Macozoma says the company could have handled the matter with Makate better from the start when he was still an employee.

“We cannot undo the past. Where we’ve erred, as the company, we apologise.”

The cellphone giant says if it were to change its mind and make a new offer to Makate now, it would be going against the Constitutional Court's ruling in 2016, which instructed the company's CEO to make the final determination in an event of a deadlock.

The Please Call Me Movement is demanding Vodacom compensate Makate R70 billion, a figure which the telecommunication company has labelled irrational.

It explained that it amounts to six years of revenue after taxation.

CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE

Vodacom is adamant it can't disclose how much its CEO offered Makate, only revealing that it is substantially higher than the previous R10 million offer.

Due to a confidentiality clause, neither parties can say how much Makate was offered for his idea. But litigation funder Chris Schuman, who helped Makate with his legal battle, has told Radio 702 it was R49 million, which he advised him to accept.

Vodacom says during negotiations, various figures were tabled from both sides but they were too far apart.

Vodacom's chief officer of legal and regulatory affairs Nkateko Nyoka says even though there are calls to reconsider the offer made to Makate, it’s impossible.

“The number determined by the deadlock-breaker is final and binding until it’s been overturned by the court.”

Vodacom is expected to meet with Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams next week.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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