Tag: South African Post Office

700 000 social relief grants uncollected

By Mayibongwe Maqhina for IOL

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has revealed that more than 700 000 beneficiaries have not collected their R350 social relief of distress grants from the South African Post Office (SAPO).

EFF MP Rosina Ntshetsana Komane wrote to Zulu asking about the number of beneficiaries who were approved to receive the grant and were yet to claim their money.

Komane also asked about the measures her department has put in place to ensure that all those entitled to the grant accessed it.

The grant was introduced as a temporary relief measure for those who lost economic opportunities and were adversely affected after the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the grant until March 2023 and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana allocated R44 billion for the 12-month extension while a long-term social assistance approach was considered.

In her written reply, Zulu said a total of 771 089 had not collected their R350 grant since it was first introduced.

“According to the reconciliation received from the SA Post Office (SAPO), a total of 328 477 beneficiaries have yet to collect their grant from the first cycle which ended 30 April 30 2021 and 442 602 from the second cycle which covers the period from August 2021 to March 2022,” she said.

Zulu also said approval was recently provided to SAPO, in line with the directions published on February 10, for beneficiaries from the first cycle to be paid their funds should they report to the Post Office.

The minister said beneficiaries could have the grants paid directly into their personal bank accounts and through the Post Office.

“Currently, of the 10 563 123 approved beneficiaries, 42% collect their grants through the post office while 58% receive the grant in their own personal bank accounts,” she said in reference to the 4.4 million beneficiaries paid via the Post Office.

Zulu also said beneficiaries could access their grants through the retailers such as Pick n Pay, Boxer, Checkers, Shoprite and Usave.

“Negotiations with the Spar group to also allow access to the relief grant are at an advanced stage and further announcements will be made shortly.”

Zulu said the South African Social Security Agency was also finalising the contracting with banks to allow for the payment to be made to mobile phones.

“This channel will be available for the extension of the grant from April 2022 to March 2023.”

Zulu said: “These channels have all contributed to the significant improvement in reducing the queues at Post Offices, and provide a range of options for approved beneficiaries to be able to access their grants conveniently.”

Meanwhile, a total of 51 Post Office branches were closed between 2020 and 2021 with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal leading the pack with 21 and 16 respectively.

Responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Bridget Masango, Zulu said Sassa was no longer growing the customer base for the Post Office with new social grant beneficiaries in light of current challenges experienced by the entity.

“This decision was taken by Sassa in 2020 to afford the Post Office an opportunity to review their systems and strategies going forward,” she said.

Zulu also said since the contract with Cash Paymaster Services was terminated, Sassa ensured that the social grants were paid into the beneficiaries’ special disbursement accounts handled by SAPO and into beneficiaries’ private bank accounts on a monthly basis.

“Of the approximately 7 million accounts opened within the SAPO environment for social grant beneficiaries, only 10% actually utilise the post office branches or cash pay points to access their funds.

“The remaining beneficiaries already access their grants through the National Payment System at bank ATMs and merchant point of sale devices,” she said.

 

Bankrupt Post Office wants to stop couriers

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

Items like smartphones, small electronics, bank cards, and medication may soon only be delivered through the Post Office.

This is if it wins its court face-off with PostNet and the South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) over the delivery of packages weighing 1kg and less.

ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Commission (CCC) in late 2019 ruled that PostNet had contravened the Postal Services Act by transporting and delivering such packages.

According to the regulations, only a licensed postal services operator may render services defined as “reserved postal services.”

As the only operator of this kind in South Africa, the Post Office has the exclusive right to provide delivery services for all letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels, and other postal articles up to and including 1kg.

PostNet was initially ordered to stop delivering all packages weighing 1kg and less by 17 March 2020.

However, it secured an interdict which has allowed it to continue to deliver these packages until the full challenge is heard in the Gauteng High Court.

It has been joined by SAEPA, who represents courier companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS, CourierIT, RAM, and Globeflight.

The organisation has told MyBroadband that the impact could be disastrous if the court ruled in the Post Office’s favour.

Shopping delivery storage

Individual South African customers and online shopping companies rely on private couriers to deliver many products to their homes on time and with efficiency.

The SA Post Office’s services, by contrast, have been in a decline over the last few years, with packages often reported as lost or stolen.

In addition, the majority of its offering only delivers to branches and not directly to the customer’s home.

SAEPA CEO Garry Marshall said that many of the products currently carried by private couriers fell into the sub-1kg category which the Post Office is laying claim to.

“It just covers such a broad range of commodities across the board,” Marshall said.

“The most dramatic that people can relate to are medications, cell phones, and electronic equipment.”

He provided the example of someone working from home who would need to order a small router.

If the Post Office wins the case, a customer would need to have it shipped through them.

If they opt not to use the Speed Services door-to-door option, they would have to pick it up at the Post Office.

Takealot delivery

More worryingly is that many people won’t be able to use other couriers to get their prescribed medication delivered.

“The courier industry delivers hundreds of thousands of chronic medication shipments directly to people’s homes per month,” Marshall said.

“If those are under 1kg – as many of them are – then of course that would be impacted by it.”

When asked about the specific items which would be reserved to its services, the Post Office simply said that “all items below 1kg” formed part of its mandate.

“Exceptions are the items listed on SAPO’s prohibited guide, for example dangerous goods such as gunpowder,” it added.

Sub-1kg products which are often transported and delivered by courier services include:

  • Bank cards
  • Important financial and legal documents
  • Vehicle licences
  • Electronics like smartphones, wearables, routers, and dongles
  • Computer components
  • SIM cards
  • Clothing
  • Medicine
  • Fast food
  • Car parts
  • rain new logo SIM

Many MyBroadband readers have suggested that courier companies could bypass the regulations by simply adding more weight to small packages to push them over the 1kg mark.

Marshall said, however, that they could not realistically consider this.

“You can’t do that as a rule,” he stated.

“We have to be compliant with the law and anything that artificially inflates things to circumvent the law makes it very difficult for us to perform.”

“New legislation will simply come in that will say that you can’t artificially inflate the weight of something,” Marshall said.

 

SA Post Office on the brink of collapse

Source: MyBroadband

The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on the brink of collapse and is facing bankruptcy despite receiving R8-billion in bailouts since 2014.

This is a warning from the DA’s shadow deputy minister of communications and digital technologies, Cameron MacKenzie.

According to MacKenzie, there are reports of unpaid rentals and desperate suppliers, postal backlogs, and broken ICT systems.

MyBroadband has recently reported that many landlords have seized equipment and kicked out the SA Post Office from their malls for not paying rent.

Notices on the doors of some SA Post Office branches now state “Closed until further notice” without a clear indication of where people can now get services from.

The Post Office told MyBroadband while the backlog in rental payments on other properties has been settled, the Parkview and Menlyn Main post offices were closed by the property owner as a result of a rental dispute.

“The SA Post Office is currently in discussions with the landlord to resolve the dispute with the intention of re-opening the branches shortly,” it said.

The SA Post Office’s struggles to pay rent comes as no surprise.

A recent High Court judgement revealed that the Post Office’s year-to-date loss as at 31 July 2020 was R1.066 billion. Only 55 of the Post Office’s 1,416 operational branches were profitable.

MacKenzie said in the absence of any further funding and expenses far exceeding revenue, the Post Office is resorting to the only means to stay afloat – stop paying creditors.

“Suppliers are once again being parked in a queue for payment, despite all processes required to effect payment followed, including quotation, purchase order, service delivered, and invoice presented. All that’s missing is the money to pay them,” he said.

He added that SAPO’s IT systems, including the essential on-line ‘track-and-trace’ service, remain non-functional, so customers have no idea of the status of their parcels or mail.

“COVID-19 protocols are virtually non-existent, especially during the peak grant payment periods, putting the health and welfare of staff and customers alike at risk.”

MacKenzie urged the government to start implementing productive public-private partnerships and social compacts to save the SA Post Office.

“The Department of Communications needs a new minister and the SA Post Office a new owner. If ever there was a moment to hang the sign “Under New Management”, that time is now,” he said.

MyBroadband asked the SA Post Office for comment, but it did not reply by the time of publication.

Management challenges at the Post Office
Apart from the usual suspects – corruption, mismanagement, and a bloated workforce – the Post Office has also faced a management crisis since Mark Barnes resigned as CEO.

Barnes started his five-year contract as Post Office CEO on 15 January 2016 with a mandate to turn the struggling state-owned enterprise around.

Barnes, however, resigned as CEO on 1 August 2019 – eighteen months before his contract was set to expire.

“If the government had let management get on with our board-approved, portfolio committee supported strategy, we would’ve completed the turnaround of SAPO by now. Imagine that,” he said.

Since Barnes’ departure the acting CEO, Lindiwe Kwele was suspended and the new CFO, Khathutshelo Ramukumba resigned after barely two months on the job.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Barnes said he could not comment on the current challenges at the SA Post Office since he was not there.

He instead reflected on his time at the Post Office. “I fell in love with the place and the people who work there,” he said.

While on a recent trip through South Africa, he saw scraggly queues of people outside Post Offices in towns waiting to get their social grants.

“The only inclination I had was to get out of my car and go and help them and re-fuel the culture changes we brought about,” said Barnes.

“We needed all the ingredients for the Post Office to complete its turnaround strategy, but those ingredients were not made available to us by the shareholder,” he said.

Looking back at his resignation in 2019, he said it became an easy decision after he looked at the facts.

“There is no Post Office in the world which has succeeded in the new age without access to the national payment system and financial transactions,” he said.

“It is no longer about post. It is about having a government infrastructure – a series of two-way channels – which have huge relevance in the modern world.”

This means when the government decided the Post Office Bank should be held separately, Barnes could no longer promise the delivery of a fully integrated, functional, and financially sustainable Post Office.

Barnes said he believes the government’s current strategy around the Post Office is going to fail, which is why he decided to resign.

 

Source: Randburg Sun 

There’s a new parcel delivery scam that post office users should remain alert for and guard against, Southlands Sun reports.

The SA Post Office warned the public to be on the alert for the new scam which is designed to defraud them.

The conmen place phone calls to members of the public, alleging to be from the Customs division of the SA Post Office. The caller informs them that a parcel is ready for collection, provided they first pay ‘customs fees’ into a bank account.

The SA Post Office insisted that it does not require customers to make any bank deposit before parcels are released. In instances where a SARS levy import tax is payable on parcels from abroad, the import tax must be paid at the Post Office counter when the item is collected. The customer will receive a point-of-sale receipt for this payment.

Where the Post Office has the recipient’s cellphone number, the customer will receive an SMS requesting them to collect the parcel at a specific branch. The SMS will not request funds to be deposited into an account.

Members of the public who have information regarding this scam are requested to call the police or the Post Office’s crime buster hotline on 0800-020-070.

The SA Post Office advises the public to ignore communication of this nature.

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