South Africa’s Constituitional Court has declared that Vodacom Limited is bound by the agreement concluded by Mr Kenneth Nkosana Makate and Mr Philip Geissler even if it was an oral agreement.
The court has ordered Vodacom to commence negotiations in good faith with Mr Kenneth Nkosana Makate for determining a reasonable compensation payable to him in terms of the agreement.
“In the event of the parties failing to agree on the reasonable compensation, the matter must be submitted to Vodacom’s Chief Executive Officer for determination of the amount within a reasonable time. Vodacom is ordered to pay the costs of the action, including the costs of two counsel, if applicable, and the costs of the expert, Mr Zatkovich.” court records show.
The court wants the negotiations to commence within 30 calendar days from yesterday and Vodacom is ordered to pay the applicant’s costs in the Constitional Court and in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Mr Kenneth Nkosana Makate, a former trainee accountant at Vodacom was inspired to launch Please Call Me when he was involved in a long distance relationship in November 2000 with a student who later became his wife. They experienced communication difficulties as his girlfiend could not afford to buy airtime to call him so Makate thought such a service would help her notify him so he could call her back.
Makate then pitched the product to Vodacom Director of Product Development and Management, Mr Philip Geissler who agreed that Vodacom would use the applicant’s idea to develop a new product which would be put on trial for commercial viability. If the product was successful then the applicant would be paid a share in the revenue generated by it.
Makate had wanted 15% of the revenue but Vodacom didn’t agree but the product was developed and shipped to users in South Africa then to other markets the group operates including in Kenya under Safaricom and in Tanzania under Vodacom Tanzania.
SO much has happened in between. In 2008, Makate took Vodacom ito the High Court seeking an order directing Vodacom to comply with its obligations under the parties’ oral agreement. Vodacom responded by filing two special pleas which denying the inventor justice.