Vodacom has written a strongly worded letter to Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi telling the politician to dial back his criticism of the telecommunications operator over its dispute with Nkosana Makate, the man who claims to have invented the “please call me” service.
The letter, sent on Vodacom’s behalf by law firm Stemela & Lubbe and addressed to Lesufi and Modise Setoaba of the “Please Call Me Movement”, warns that the operator will go to court unless it receives specific written undertakings from Lesufi.
The Please Call Me Movement has warned it will shut down Vodacom World, the operator’s flagship store on its campus in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, on 31 January (this Thursday). It has claimed the operator owes Makate R70-billion for the “please call me” idea.
Vodacom’s demands include a written undertaking that Lesufi will “desist from making false and defamatory comments” about Vodacom in relation to its litigation with Makate and that he will stop saying the company is in “wilful breach of the constitutional court order or that it is acting in an unfair and morally repugnant manner” towards him.
Lesufi must also “desist from calling for and/or inciting the invasion and occupation” of the Vodacom World store or any of its premises “including but not limited to its various stores around the country on 31 January 2019 or any future date”.
“You are hereby afforded until 12pm on 30 January 2019 to provide the aforementioned undertaking, failing which our client will seek relief on an urgent basis in an appropriate forum on terms it deems appropriate…”
Lesufi hits back
Lesufi, however, took to Twitter to say he has no intention of complying with Vodacom’s demands.
“Bring it on @Vodacom! I am NOT easily intimidated. You can’t bully or silence my support to the weak and vulnerable,” he tweeted on Wednesday morning. “This is a democratic country and I have the right to express my views without fear. The apartheid regime detained me without trial. I am not scared!”
Vodacom’s legal letter comes after Lesufi mounted a campaign on Twitter against Vodacom over the settlement it has offered Makate. Though the amount in question hasn’t been disclosed (both sides are bound by confidentiality), Makate has described the figure as “shocking and an insult”.
Posting on his Facebook page earlier this month after Vodacom revealed on that it had settled the dispute by agreeing to “reasonable compensation”, Makate said: “I would like to make it very clear that I have not agreed anything with Vodacom. The amount that the CEO has determined is shocking and an insult.”
After a lengthy and costly legal battle, the constitutional court found that Makate had invented the service while in the employ of Vodacom and directed the company’s CEO — currently Shameel Joosub — to determine an amount of “reasonable compensation” that should be paid to Makate should the parties be unable to reach an agreement. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media