In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa has ruled against Vodacom (Pty) Ltd in the long-standing case concerning the Please Call Me service. The judgment, issued on February 6, 2024, marks a setback for the telecommunications giant, as its appeal was dismissed.
In a notice to its shareholders, Vodacom expressed surprise and disappointment at the verdict. However, the company stated that it intends to pursue further legal recourse by filing an application for leave to appeal before the Constitutional Court of South Africa within the stipulated timeframe.
The Please Call Me matter dates back to a 2016 Constitutional Court order, wherein Vodacom’s CEO determined compensation of R47 million for Kenneth Nkosana Makate, the alleged inventor of the service. Despite this determination, Makate rejected the offered compensation and sought judicial review of the decision.
In response, Makate filed an application with the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa to challenge the CEO’s determination. On February 8, 2022, the High Court ruled in favor of Makate, setting aside the CEO’s determination and ordering Vodacom to reconsider the settlement offered.
Following this judgment, Vodacom sought leave to appeal the decision of the High Court. However, their application faced another setback when the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the previous ruling on February 6, 2024.
This latest development prolongs the legal battle between Vodacom and Makate over the compensation for the Please Call Me idea. The decision to pursue an appeal before the Constitutional Court signals Vodacom’s determination to contest the ruling and seek a resolution to the contentious issue.