27/06/2018 07:05 SAST | Updated 27/06/2018 07:05 SAST

Vodacom Obtains Gag Order Against 'Please Call Me' Inventor

Vodacom has obtained an urgent interdict against Nkosana Makate, preventing him to discussing the settlement talks.

Vodacom has obtained a gag order against Nkosana Makata, inventor of the 'Please Call Me' function, to stop him from discussing the settlement negotiations in public, according to Business Day. The parties have been in settlement talks for two years.

In April 2016, the Constitutional Court ordered Vodacom to start negotiations with Makate and that if negotiations failed, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub must determine a "reasonable amount", MoneyWeb reported at the time.

In that judgment, Justice Chris Jafta reportedly said it was "unethical" for Vodacom to refuse to compensate Makate for inventing the 'Please Call Me'.

Makate reportedly believed that the 'Please Call Me' had generated R70-billion in revenue for Vodacom, and wanted a 15 percent cut (R10.5-billion). Vodacom, however, argued that Makate had not made the claim against them in sufficient time, and that it would be "unethical" to offer an employee extra compensation for an idea.

According to Business Day, in April Vodacom offered Makate R10-million, which is reportedly unlikely to even cover the costs of his legal fees after a decade of litigation.

On Tuesday, Vodacom obtained an urgent interdict against Makate, preventing him from discussing the settlement agreement with the media.

City Press reported in 2016 that Makate was a junior accountant at Vodacom in 2000 when he came up with the "Please Call Me" concept. He asked for 15 percent of the revenue that would come from the idea, estimated to be about R10.5-billion.

This would be the revenue related to the "induced" phone calls resulting from "Please Call Me" messages and the advertising included in the messages.

Makate's investors also reportedly need to be paid. Sterling Rand, a "debt investment" company, reportedly funded Makate's lawsuit. Sterling Rand's Errol Erlsdon told City Press that the firm's legal team would be heading the settlement talks with Vodacom.