The Competition Tribunal on Tuesday ordered telecommunications firm Telkom to pay R449-million for abusing its dominance in the South African telecommunications market over a five-year period.
The tribunal gave the JSE-listed group six months to pay the first half of the fine, with the balance to be paid 12 months thereafter.
The Competition Commission found Telkom guilty of charging excessive prices and engaging in uncompetitive behaviour between 1999 and 2004.
The commission initially sought a penalty of up to R3.5-billion, which spurred a delegation of over 3 500 Telkom employees to present written pleas to the commission to consider the employees’ job security.
The tribunal said in its judgement that Telkom, leveraging its monopoly, caused “harm to both competitors and consumers”, while hindering competition and innovation in the value-added network service (VANS) market.
The telecommunications group was found to have excluded competing VANS providers from the market by refusing to supply essential access facilities to independent VANS providers, charging the smaller players excessive prices to access services, and encouraging customers of the independent groups not to deal with them.
Telkom responded in a statement to shareholders that it was examining the judgement and its implications.