Vodacom faces protests after call-back messaging fund issue

Vodacom, a part of Vodafone, has faced protests as the South African mobile telecoms provider did not pay adequately to a former employee for his role in creating a call-back messaging service.
Vodacom 5G

About 200 protesters, who marched to Vodacom headquarters, demanded 70 billion rand or $5.28 billion for the 42 year-old Nkosana Makate for his role in creating the company’s call-back messaging service.

Chris Schoeman, a businessman who funded Nkosana Makate’s litigation against Vodacom, told 702 Talk Radio that Vodacom has offered a settlement of 49 million rand or $4 million, Reuters reported.

The country’s top court ordered Vodacom in 2016 to pay Nkosana Makate for his role in creating the company’s call-back messaging service. The Constitutional Court did not set a specific compensation amount. The court asked both parties to finalize the compensation amount.

The court ruled that should the two sides fail to agree an amount, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub had the authority to set an amount to break the deadlock.

Vodacom spokesman Byron Kennedy said the settlement made earlier this month was “reasonable”. Vodacom and Makate did not reveal the settlement amount.

“We are willing to pay Makate a substantial amount and we have fully complied with the Constitutional Court order on the matter,” Kennedy said.

Makate has said on Twitter that the settlement offered by the mobile firm was “shocking and insulting”.

Hundreds of protestors, who gathered at the main entrance of Vodacom’s head office in Johannesburg, used placards reading “Vodacom Stop Racism” and “Justice for Makate = R70 billion.

Vodacom’s retail stores inside the headquarters, which has around 6,000 square meters of shopping space, were closed for the day.