David takes on Goliath until justice is served
When you get to the Constitutional Court, be careful of Justice Sisi Khampepe. She is going to come at you from your right, and she is going to be relentless.
Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try to be smart. Humility won’t get you any extra points. Just be you.
If you forget your facts, Justice MJD Wallis will be there to pull you out by reading to you from that undergrad textbook you had already forgotten by the time you were drinking at your graduation party.
Don’t make the mistake of saying “My Lord”. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng will be quick to remind you that you aren’t there to pray to him. But don’t trust that one. He has a deceptive, brotherly smile that will lull you into thinking you’ve won the case already. Bad mistake.
Unless you’re superhuman, when the heat is turned up, you’re going to confuse your thoughts, you’re going to stutter, and Justice Edwin Cameron is going to throw you a lifeline by calmly asking you questions.
But Justice Johann van der Westhuizen is going to tie your ankles and dip your head in the water. As you come up for air, the only thing you will hear are the sharp professorial questions from Justice Chris Jafta.
Let’s all pray that God does not ask Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to assist on the day of judgment. It’s not that you won’t get into heaven or hell, it’s just that the heat at the pearly gates will feel higher than hell itself.
This is where Nkosana Makate will be sitting on Tuesday when he squares up against Vodacom in the Constitutional Court. Makate is a study in resilience. It has taken him eight years to get here, lots of money and endless faith in himself and the justice system.
Big corporations like to bully the small guy. No, I take that back. It is not the big corporations. The buildings have nothing to do with it, the shareholders would rather get the money that is wasted on the courts, and the rest of the employees do not care for the bad publicity their employer gets.
For Makate, it all started more than 15 years ago. The seed was his love for his girlfriend, now his wife.
Makate says he invented the “Please call me” service. Former CEO of Vodacom Alan Knott-Craig disputes this. He says he invented it. Judge Phillip Coppin dismissed that version as nonsense.
Makate’s version is different. He told me that the whole idea for the service came from his personal experience. He lived in Johannesburg and his then girlfriend was a student at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape. He missed her terribly and phoned her every day, but she never reciprocated.
They say love will move mountains. It was a Sunday night, and Nkosana, who worked in the finance department, sat down to think about how he could solve his problem.
He cracked the idea, and spent most of the night writing it up. In the morning, he showed it to his direct boss, Lazarus Muchenje. He thought about taking the idea to MTN, but Lazzie suggested he should keep it within Vodacom and advised him to approach head of product development Phillip Geissler.
“Why did you take Vodacom to court, Nkosana?” I asked him.
He took a deep breath, like a man who had crossed every uncrossable valley and whose soul had been scarred by every thorn along the way.
“For justice,” he replied. “Because the little man doesn’t get it.” Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive,
an advertising agency