The invention of Vodacom’s Please Call Me service came under scrutiny when former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig testified in the High Court in Johannesburg, The New Age reported on Wednesday.
In Knott-Craig’s biography, Second is Nothing, he wrote that he was standing on his balcony when he saw two security guards trying to communicate. One gave the other a missed call to get his attention. That was when the Please Call Me idea hit him and a few minutes later he was discussing its implementation with senior managers, according to the report.
Knott-Craig is the main witness in a civil claim brought by former employee Nkosana Makete against Vodacom. He wants to be compensated for inventing and introducing the Please Call Me idea to his former boss. The newspaper reported that when Cedric Puckrin, for Makete, questioned Knott-Craig about the invention, he denied taking credit for it.
“That is not how I read it. If anyone had told me about Makete, I would not have ignored it, I would have pursued it.” However, Puckrin showed the court an email sent to all Vodacom staff in March 2001 congratulating and thanking Makete for coming up with the concept.
Knott-Craig denied ever seeing the email and said that neither him or Vodacom deny that Makete may have pitched the idea to them, but said Makete is not entitled to compensation for the concept.