Vodacom has shut down its headquarters and Vodacom World mall ahead of protest action around the Please Call Me debacle.
The Please Call Me Movement, headed by Modise Setoaba, has organised protest action at Vodacom’s head office for today, demanding that a settlement with Kenneth Makate be reached.
The movement, which claims to be against corporate bullying and consumer injustice, said Vodacom owes Makate R70 billion for his Please Call Me idea.
Setoaba said in an SABC interview that he does not know how much Makate was offered by Vodacom, but argued that he did not need to know the amount to know it was not fair.
“There are two parties here [Vodacom and Makate] and one is aggrieved. I am on the side of the aggrieved party,” said Setoaba.
Many high-profile politicians have thrown their weight behind Makate’s plight, too, including Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Despite legal threats from Vodacom, Lesufi continued his participation in the matter and threatened Vodacom with widespread action if they do not pay Makate.
Lesufi said he was talking to the finance minister about the government’s contracts with Vodacom, as well as international institutions.
Other organisations promoting the Vodacom shutdown included the ANC Liliesleaf Farm Branch and Black First Land First.
Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told MyBroadband that “naturally we are aware of a planned protest to our Midrand offices”.
“Vodacom respects the right of every South African to freedom of expression and to hold legal and peaceful protests,” Kennedy said.
“As a responsible corporate, and in the normal course of business, we have continuity plans in place to manage any eventuality.”
He reiterated that Vodacom has fully complied with the order of the Constitutional Court and that they are ready and willing to pay Makate a substantial amount.
Vodacom shut down – Photos
MyBroadband visited Vodacom’s head office in Midrand early on Thursday morning, but the gates were locked and guards blocked the entrances.
No one was allowed to enter the Vodacom campus, and security guards told MyBroadband that only police were allowed in.
There was a police presence, albeit low key, including an SAPS Nyala on Vodacom’s grounds.
Most Vodacom staff were told to stay at home today, while the few staff members at the office had entered from a side gate.
The shutdown also resulted in a large traffic jam outside Vodacom’s offices, with vehicles forced to turn around and leave the area.