Vodacom hits back at billion-rand Please Call Me claims

Vodacom told MyBroadband it rejects the claims of Nkosana Makate and Teboho Motaung that it provided for R63 billion as a potential payment to Makate for allegedly coming up with the Please Call Me idea.

This follows Motaung submitting an affidavit earlier this week claiming that he had found invoices totalling billions of rand which seemed to be related to the possible payment of Makate for his Please Call Me idea.

Motaung claimed these invoices were described as purchase order items that used the following reference:

“Leslie Cohen bulk PO Kenneth Makate”

“The invoice is raised by Leslie Cohen Associates Trust account to its customer, Vodacom Ltd, for the Makate matter,” said Motaung.

“It is clear, just from the magnitude of totals represented on the series of invoices that these are not invoices for legal services rendered.”

“In fact, the normal fees of the lawyers were raised through different invoices from the ones dedicated to the Makate/Vodacom matter,” he said.

These claims are false and misleading – Vodacom

Vodacom told MyBroadband that it explicitly denies these claims.

“Vodacom rejects as false and deliberately misleading the claims by Mr Kenneth Makate and Mr Teboho Motaung that Vodacom purportedly provided for a sum of R63 billion as cover for its potential liability for the Please Call Me product, following a ruling by the Constitutional Court in April 2016,” said a Vodacom spokesperson.

“Vodacom did not make a provision for the R63 billion or for that matter any other sum of money, during this period, because the Constitutional Court did not set the quantum of the amount of money payable to Mr Makate, but directed the parties to negotiate in good faith to agree on a reasonable amount of compensation payable to Mr Makate.”

Vodacom said that the statements made in Makate and Motaung’s affidavits are “neither new nor do they introduce any new issues that have not previously been considered”.

It added that these were considered by the Commission for Intellectual Property and Companies (CIPC) and in Makate’s interlocutory application before the North Gauteng High Court.

“The CIPC threw out Mr Makate’s complaint on the grounds that it did not have jurisdiction to consider such a complaint,” said the Vodacom spokesperson.

Makate’s affidavit is “premature”

Vodacom also said it believes Makate’s supplementary affidavit is premature as Vodacom is still engaged with the court over the nature of the documentation to which Makate should be given access.

“In our view, the service of Mr Makate’s supplementary affidavit, in his effort to have the decision of Mr Shameel Joosub (a deadlock breaking mechanism in the dispute, as determined by the Constitutional Court) is premature because the North Gauteng High Court still has to rule on Vodacom’s application for the variation of the Court Order that it sought to grant to Mr Makate to have access to certain documentation,” Vodacom said.

“Vodacom does not have some of the documents (ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to be produced) in its possession, and has disclosed the documents it has in its possession to Mr Makate’s attorneys.”

Vodacom said it is not in a position to debate the merits of Makate’s application to have the compensation Vodacom offered him – R49 million – set aside as the matter is still before the courts.

Vodacom should have the necessary documents – Motaung

Motaung contests Vodacom’s assertion that it does not have all the documents Makate has asked for, claiming that the mobile network should easily be able to calculate the revenue it has earned from the Please Call Me service.

“Insofar as it is reflected in Mr Makate’s statement that Vodacom is disputing the availability of data older than 6 months, I find it quite absurd,” said Motaung.

“It was part of my duties to obtain PCM [Please Call Me] data from Vodacom systems which would then be incorporated in spreadsheets.”

“It clearly shows that Vodacom tracked and maintained records of the number of PCM requests sent out.”

Therefore, Motaung said it should be a “simple exercise” for Vodacom to make a valid estimate of the revenue it has earned through the product.

Motaung added that when the case was placed before the Constitutional Court in 2015, there was “a flurry of activity at Vodacom involving a number of its finance personnel who were tasked to examine and calculate the revenue streams earned by Please Call Me”.

He said that finance staff were required to go back “as far as possible” with this investigation, which went on for a period of two to three weeks.

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Vodacom hits back at billion-rand Please Call Me claims