According to a report by the TimesLive, the please-call-me service subsequently earned Vodacom a lot of income.
Makate reportedly initiated proceedings against Vodacom in 2008 in an attempt to claim a portion of the revenue generated by the service.
Cedric Puckrin, Makate’s lawyer, reportedly told the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday Makate formed the idea for the service after he realised the mobile operator's system could be “rigged”to allow a person without airtime to send a message to a contact with airtime.
“It was of paramount importance, for [Makate] at least, that the outgoing message had to be free because you defeated the purpose by levying a charge,” the Times Live quoted Puckrin as saying.
Makate proposed the idea for the please-call-me service to his then superior, Lazarus Muchenje.
Both Makate and Muchenje reportedly discussed the possibility of an incentive should the idea be established.
However, Makate received an email of congratulations and thanks for the development of his idea, which was also forwarded to all Vodacom staff.
Vodacom reportedly denied Makate had any entitlement to monetary compensation. Furthermore, Vodacom stated previously Makate did not in fact invent the application. Even if Makate had invented it, Vodacom said his employment contract stipulates “any invention while employed by Vodacom belongs to Vodacom.”
The case continues.