Tag: please call me

By Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband

Vodacom has won leave to appeal a High Court judgement in the Please Call Me case on the grounds that the judge may have applied a legal principle called the Bekker test incorrectly.

Judge Wendy Hughes granted Vodacom leave to appeal her earlier ruling in a 7-page judgement delivered yesterday.

Makate, who worked as Vodacom finance manager, pitched his idea of a method to “buzz” someone else’s phone without airtime to a superior on 21 November 2000.

His idea was ultimately developed into Please Call Me, which launched on the Vodacom network in January 2001.

Makate launched legal action against Vodacom in 2008 after sending letters to the network in 2007, claiming that he was promised compensation as the inventor of Please Call Me.

The matter made its way to the Constitutional Court, which ruled in 2016 that Makate was entitled to payment.

It ordered the parties to negotiate a fair deal. If they could not reach a good-faith agreement, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub had to determine an equitable amount.

Joosub offered Makate R47 million for the idea, which he rejected.

Makate launched a fresh legal challenge in the Pretoria High Court, obtaining a ruling in his favour in February 2022.

Judge Hughes gave Joosub 30 days to recalculate the compensation the company had offered to pay.

In March, Vodacom applied for leave to appeal Hughes’ High Court judgement, which she has now granted.

In its application, Vodacom argued that Hughes did not correctly apply the Bekker test and that she did not consider whether Joosub’s R47-million offer to Makate was patently inequitable.

The Bekker test states: “an expert valuer’s determination can be reviewed if he or she did not exercise the judgment of a reasonable man and that such was exercised unreasonably, irregularly or wrongly so as to lead to a patently inequitable result.”

Hughes disputed that she did not consider whether Makate’s award was patently inequitable.

However, she said there was a valid question if the way in which she established the patently inequitable result in her judgement goes against the Bekker test, leading to uncertainty and confusion in the law.

“I am persuaded that a compelling reason exists to grant leave to appeal,” Hughes stated.


By Zelda Venter for IOL

In a victory judgment for Please Call Me (PCM) inventor Nkosana Makate the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Tuesday found he was shortchanged by Vodacom and that the cellphone giant must go back to the drawing board to come up with a suitable amount.

The court gave Vodacom’s CEO Shameel Joosub one month in which to recalculate what is owed to Makate, using the guidelines issued by the court.

Judge Wendy Hughes made it clear that the calculations used by Joosub earlier in offering Makate R47 million, for what the judge called a brilliant invention, was by far too conservative.

While the judge said Vodacom was in a better position than the court to calculate the true worth of the invention, she gave certain guidelines of what must be taken into account when the amount due to him is recalculated.

Judge Hughes ordered that Makate is entitled to be paid 5% of the total voice revenue generated from the PCM product – starting from March 2001 to March 2021 – and not only for five years, as earlier calculated by Joosub.

She ordered that the total voice revenue must include PCM revenue derived from prepaid, contract (both in bundle and out of bundle) and interconnect fees as set out in Vodacom’s annual financial statements.

“The CEO was disingenuous to project that PCM, as a third party service provider, should only be allocated a duration of five years,” the judge said. She pointed out that Joosub claimed that the R47-million calculation to which he had arrived, was “generous” as well as his conclusion that the invention had generated money for Vodacom over five years.

“The facts demonstrate otherwise. In my view, it is therefore projectable that PCM as a brilliant concept would have had the longevity which it has today. Thus, the eighteen years proposed by Makate (over which time Vodacom has benefitted from PCM) is reasonable and probable.”

The judge added that in regard to the duration to which Vodacom had benefited from the PCM concept, the CEO is to apply the eighteen-year period when he recalculated the amount due to Makate.

As part of his calculations, the CEO must assume that the average call duration of the return calls is two minutes and payment in this respect must not be less than the published Icasa effective rate;

In finding that Vodacom did shortchange Makate, she said he is entitled to 27% of the number of PCM’s sent daily over the years as being revenue generated by the return calls to the PCM.

While it is not yet known what the amount due to Makate will be using the guidelines issued by the court, it will be far more than the R47 million offered to him. Makate, during his application to the high court, said he is owed at least R10-billion.

Makate and Vodacom have been embroiled in litigation over the PCM product for more than two decades.

The Constitutional Court earlier ordered Vodacom to negotiate in good faith and that reasonable compensation had to be paid to Makate for PCM. Unhappy with the R47 million offered to him by the CEO, Makate asked the court to review this amount and to make its own calculations as to which his invention was worth.

But the judge said the CEO is better equipped in making the sums, as he has decades of specialist experience, and is exposed and privy to all the relevant and necessary resources and documents of Vodacom, to compute a reasonable and just compensation for Makate.

Judge Hughes commented that, regrettably, the CEO’s earlier model placed reliance on assumptions which are not backed up by facts or documents.

The judge added that to her, it is clear that Vodacom earlier defied the Constitutional Court order to act and negotiate in good faith.

Since February, the cell phone allowances of officers in specialised units such as crime intelligence, and those driving patrol vehicles, have been slashed.

With the police’s 10111 operators – most of whom are poorly trained civilians – notoriously incapable of handling calls properly, and often taking addresses incorrectly, a cell phone could be the difference between your life and your death.

Research shows that in house robberies, which police statistics indicate have increased, people have only three minutes in which to call the police before being overpowered.

But the average police response time, according to officers in the thick of it, can be 20 minutes or more.

If in your panic you drop a call to 10111, or the operator fails to get all the essential information from you, or call you back, there’s little if anything patrol officers can do to find you.

Often, say Pretoria policemen, if they cannot find a crime scene – especially if it is “minor” crime, such as a housebreaking – they declare it “negative”.

The problem is that, says Unisa criminologist Rudolph Zinn, burglaries often turn into house robberies if the homeowners arrive when the burglars are still inside.

A Pretoria policeman said two weeks ago it took his colleagues an hour to find the victim of a house robbery, who had left his home to look for them, because a 10111 operator had failed to take his address correctly.

In another house robbery case, officers could not find the crime scene.

Although they had the correct street name, the robbery was in Rosebank, Johannesburg, not Pretoria.

“People are dying because of this [communication] bugger-up,” said a Centurion policeman.

Police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi failed to respond to e-mailed questions about why cell phone allowances had been slashed and what is being done to improve the 10111 emergency service.

The Times understands that uncapped cell phone budgets of members of specialised units, whose informants tip them off about planned crimes, were cut to R350 a month.

The cell phone allowances of sector policing patrol officers are about R80 a month.

Research by Unisa and the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research paints a picture of millions of frustrated South Africans being driven to buying cell phones for their local police, plus airtime and two-way radios, to increase the chance that they can be reached in emergencies.

The research looked at communities in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“If you drop the call to your local police van, officers must have enough airtime to phone or SMS you back,” said Unisa criminologist Rudolph Zinn.

“If you phone, 10111 operators must be trained to ask you the right questions to get you the right help.”

He said problems with 10111 call centres included not being able to get through, and operators being unable to understand the nature of the emergency and get the police to respond quickly.

Zinn said research, which is now looking at Pretoria and West Rand communities, focused on crime patterns and communities’ frustrations about police communication systems.

“It shows that, in many cases, police in patrol vehicles either don’t answer their cell phones or don’t return calls.

“Many communities have been forced to buy their local police additional hand-held radios, cell phones and airtime.”

A crime intelligence officer said that as a result of the allowance reduction, many of his colleagues had resorted to using their own cell phones.

“It’s not like our informants can contact us on our police radios.”

A Pretoria police officer said that for eight years as a policing sector manager he had battled to get a cell phone.

“Each police station patrol vehicle has a cell phone, but only R80 of airtime on it.

“The airtime, if you’re lucky, lasts a week. If we receive a call and it’s dropped, we radio our station and get them to phone the complainant, which wastes time.”

A former 10111 operator said that in the past provinces were divided into policing sectors with each having its own call centre manned by police from that sector.

“For years now, 10111 centres have been centralised, with operators who have knowledge only of certain areas dispatching police to areas about which they have no knowledge.

“Combine this with incomplete information from crime victims and you have a disaster like last week, when we arrived at a Wierdabrug robbery only to find the real crime scene was in Rosebank,” a policeman says.

By Graeme Hosken for www.timeslive.co.za

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