The North Gauteng High Court has ordered Vodacom to provide Kenneth Makate with extensive information to help his team determine how much the network should pay him for the Please Call Me idea he claims to have generated.
Justice Kollapen ordered Vodacom to make this data available within 21 days of the ruling.
Makate believes the R47 million offered by Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub was insufficient, and he applied to the High Court to force Vodacom to disclose its finances related to the Please Call Me technology.
Kollapen agreed with Makate’s argument that while Vodacom may no longer have the original raw data relating to calls, it is still possible to determine the voice revenue over the period.
He also determined that several documents sought by Makate had not featured in Joosub’s original determination when calculating the R47-million payout to Makate.
“It warrants mention that there is no recognised model for the determination of compensation in instances such as these,” said Kollapen.
“The second respondent took the position that the order of the Constitutional Court makes allowance for a variety of models including specifically an employee remuneration model by reference to best international practice.”
“The applicant, on the other hand, was of the view that the order of the Court required that the compensation made to him should be assessed by calculating a share of the actual revenue generated by the Please Call Me idea,” Kollapen said.
Kollapen noted that this dispute on the appropriate modelling structure of the payout is set to continue until the parties meet in the review court.
“There accordingly can be little argument that in general documents and information that go to the proper determination of the various components of the calculation of compensation would be relevant to what has been described as a reasonably anticipated issue,” said Kollapen.
Next step could be appeal
Vodacom said it is reviewing Kollapen’s judgement and would make a decision on the appropriate next steps in due course.
These next steps could include an appeal, it said.
“Makate’s case before Justice Kollapen was not about the reasonableness of the quantum of the compensation payable to him, but rather the production of the record by the deadlock breaker, and further and better discovery of documentation,” Vodacom said.
“Our position on this matter is consistent in that we have repeatedly stated our willingness to pay Mr Makate a substantial amount.”
“Vodacom still holds the view that it entered into negotiations and negotiated with Mr. Makate and his team in good faith, in accordance with the Order of the Constitutional Court.”
Makate said that Kollapen’s ruling was important to help him with his main application for a higher payout.
“This judgment is very important. We could not finalise my papers (filed for the main application) without the documents that Vodacom withheld,” Makate told The Star.
Makate seeks billions
While Makate said this victory would allow him to determine a more accurate figure reflecting what Vodacom earned as a result of the Please Call Me technology, his team previously estimated the figure to sit at over R200 billion.
At the time, Makate wanted 5% of the total revenue generated by Please Call Me since March 2001.
This equates to at least R10 billion, which would have made him one of the most wealthy people in South Africa.
However, later reports said Makate increased his desired payout to R20 billion because of interest calculated over an 18-year period.