Johannesburg – Nkosana Makate, the man credited with being the brains behind Vodacom’s "Please Call Me" message service, said on Thursday he was grateful for the public support he has received in his long-drawn-out multi-million rand civil claim against the mobile phone giant.
Some of the support has come in the form of the Please Call Me Movement which has the backing of some politicians and staged a protest at Vodacom’s headquarters in Midrand on Thursday, demanding that the company pay Makate his due.
The crowd of at least 200 people gathered under the watchful eye of the police.
Vodacom, which closed its shops to trading in the wealthy Sandton district on Thursday, has sent organisers of the protest a cease and desist letter to stop what it described as incitement to invade its stores.
Makate told the African News Agency via telephone that he would not join the demonstration but was following developments on social media.
"It’s a personal decision I made, but I appreciate the support very much. I’m grateful for all the support I’m receiving from South Africans of all walks of life," he said.
The Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 that Vodacom should pay Makate "reasonable compensation" for the "Please Call Me" service he developed in 2000.
Makate has described as "shocking and an insult" the amount that Vodacom chief executive Shameel Joosub earlier this month said he had determined as reasonable compensation.
Speaking to talk radio station 702 on Thursday, litigation funder Chris Schoeman said Vodacom had offered Makate R49 million.
Schoeman met Makate in 2011 and helped fund his legal battle against Vodacom – which ultimately resulted in the Constitutional Court ruling.
Because Makate and Vodacom signed non-disclosure agreements regarding the compensation negotiations, Makate declined to confirm any of the figures floating in the media as the amount he is demanding, including a suggestion of R70 billion.
"I won’t confirm nor deny any amount that is mentioned because this matter is subject of a confidential negotiation process," he said.
"I’m in talks with my lawyers as to what steps we should take next. The logical step is to take the offer on review. We are yet to decide whether we take it back to the High Court or the Constitutional Court again."
"This matter has dragged for too long now. It’s 10 years since we took it to court and 19 years since it started. My children are now teenagers and it is yet to be resolved," Makate added.
African News Agency/ANA