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Judge Wendy Hughes is working on ‘Please Call Me’ judgment in the matter between Nkosana Makate and Vodacom but no date has been set yet

The inventor of ’Please Call Me’ Nkosana Makate has not received a court ruling after eight months to review the determination by Vodacom on how much “Please Call Me” owner, Makate, would receive for the idea he gave the company. Picture: Sharon Seretlo

The inventor of ’Please Call Me’ Nkosana Makate has not received a court ruling after eight months to review the determination by Vodacom on how much “Please Call Me” owner, Makate, would receive for the idea he gave the company. Picture: Sharon Seretlo

Published Jan 17, 2022

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DURBAN - Judge Wendy Hughes has failed to meet her own deadline to deliver a court judgment on the court matter between “Please Call Me” inventor Nkosana Makate and giant telecommunications company, Vodacom.

It has now been two months since the South African judiciary committed to delivering the long-awaited high profile court ruling on the matter, to review the determination by Vodacom on how much “Please Call Me” creator Makate would receive for the idea he gave the company.

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On May 5-7, Judge Hughes presided over the matter at the South Gauteng High Court, where a judgment for the review hearing of the R47 million compensation offered by Vodacom was reserved.

Judge Hughes has since been appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

On November 15, the Judicial Service Commission told this publication that the court ruling would be handed down within two months. However, Judge Hughes had not done so within the specific period that was set by the court.

Contacted for comment, the spokesperson for the judiciary, Nathi Mncube, said Judge Hughes was currently working on the judgment, and she had indicated her intention to have the judgment delivered in due course.

“It is necessary to state that the parties in the matter are aware of the status of the judgment progress and the anticipated time of delivery. We might not be able to give a month-to-month update on the matter in the future as we do not do so with all other equally important and high-profile matters.

“Justice Hughes is very much alive to the anxiety and interest that the public has in the finalisation of the matter. Therefore we request that she be allowed space to finalise the matter as she intends to do so,” Mncube explained.

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Makate’s lawyer, Wilna Lubbe, said the only notification they received was in November last year from the court, which stipulated that the court would give a ruling within two months.

“We have not heard from the court since then. We are hoping that a judgment will be handed down when the new term starts in January or February.

Makate rejected the initial R47 million compensation offer made by Vodacom, stating that he deserved at least more than R10 billion in compensation from the giant telecommunications company.

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The nearly 21-year court battle stems from when Makate was still a trainee in the company, where he proposed the “Please Call Me” idea in 2000. He pitched the idea and had a verbal agreement with the company’s then-director of product development and management, Philip Geissler.

The concept was immediately taken up, and the service was launched in February 2001.

When Makate failed to convince Vodacom to compensate him and never received payment for his idea, he laid a charge against the company and won the case.

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Advocate Trengove, SC, for Vodacom, had initially argued that the monies offered by Vodacom were over-generous, an argument which Makate’s legal team strongly dismissed.

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