Internal Vodacom emails reveal what really happened with Please Call Me

Nkosana Makate recently won a prolonged legal battle against Vodacom over his Please Call Me idea, which made the mobile operator billions of rand.

The Constitutional Court ordered Vodacom to negotiate with Makate “in good faith” to determine “reasonable compensation” for his idea. Vodacom has been given one month to do so.

Makate is asking for 15c of every rand of revenue that the Please Call Me generated, which amounts to around R10.5 billion.

While many people know about the case, what Makate’s initial idea was, and what he was promised, is less publicised.

Internal emails and memos at Vodacom reveal what happened behind the scenes with the Please Call Me, which could cost Vodacom a lot of money.

21 November 2000: Makate sends his “Buzzing Option” memorandum to Lazarus Muchenje.

Makate Memo

19 December 2000: Muchenje informs Makate that Vodacom will launch a product similar to his Buzzer idea.

Lazarus Muchenje

18 January 2001: Makate asks about developments regarding his Buzzer idea.

Phillip Geissler

21 January 2001: Philip Geissler asks Makate if he is OK with the new service.


30 January 2001: Geissler asks Makate what the new service should be called.


30 January 2001: Makate suggests the service be called “Voda-Back”


6 February 2001: Geissler tells Makate he will send his idea to the advertising department.


9 February 2001: Geissler announces to staff that Vodacom is launching a new “Call Me” service, and that Makate came up with the idea.

Launch email

More on the Please Call Me case

How I invented Vodacom’s Please Call Me: Nkosana Makate

Con Court slams Vodacom over false Please Call Me story

Massive victory for Please Call Me idea-man against Vodacom

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Internal Vodacom emails reveal what really happened with Please Call Me