A group of wealthy businessmen has emerged as the financial backer of a former Vodacom employee's civil claim involving the company's Please Call Me service, Business Day reported on Monday.
Pretoria attorney Chris Schoeman and two partners recently formed a company, Sterling-Rand, to fund civil cases that may have some merit, according to the report. The company picks up the legal fees on behalf of plaintiffs and takes a cut of any settlement that may be achieved.
Nkosana Makate took Vodacom to court to get compensation for the Please Call Me service he claims he invented in 2000. He said the executive for product development at the time, Philip Geissler, promised in an oral agreement to facilitate remuneration negotiations with the company.
Sterling-Rand has funded Makate to the tune of R5-million in legal fees in his case against Vodacom, according to the newspaper.
"It is a well-known fact that in South Africa the ordinary person who has a legitimate claim against a large corporation or some kind of state-owned entity has little chance of success," said Schoeman.
"It was a common tactic that large organisations used their deep pockets to out-litigate a plaintiff and thus deny them justice."
Schoeman said the firm's analysis of Makate's case suggested that Vodacom could have benefited by R45-billion from the concept. – Sapa