Talk of the Town
No post for Port Alfred
The Post Office’s Port Alfred landlord says they owe him more than R200,000 in rent. Weeks after the Port Alfred branch of the South African Post Office (SAPO) was temporarily closed, SAPO’s local depot has also closed.
The Post Office closed its doors several weeks ago; the depot on Bathurst Street closed more recently, on November 1.
SAPO says this is due to a rental dispute. The owner of both buildings, Kevin Heny, says they owe him more than R200,000 in rent.
In response to questions from Talk of the Town, SAPO spokesperson Johan Kruger reiterated that the Port Alfred branch remained closed due to a rental dispute.
“The Port Alfred Post Office is closed for the time being owing to a rental dispute, and the Post Office is looking for alternatives to provide a postal service to the citizens of Port Alfred, including a partnership where a local business could act as postal agency,” he said.
But Heny, of Henbrick Investments, who owns both the Masonic Street Post Office premises and the building housing the now-closed Post Office depot, said SAPO’s rent is now eight months in arrears.
“We locked them out in an effort to get some response from the Post Office as to when they intended to start paying the rent,” Heny said.
“Normally, when a tenant is in arrears, an arrangement is made between the two parties as to how the matter will be resolved.
“Unfortunately, we have had no response to our many emails. Even though we locked the main Post Office in town, we still had no response, which regrettably led to us closing the sorting depot as well,” Heny said.
The depot had become the pick-up point for customers receiving parcels when the Masonic Street Post Office closed. Kruger did not say what arrangements had been made for the public to receive parcels now that both the Post Office and depot are closed.
Commenting on an allegation that monies deducted from staff salaries and wages for PAYE, pension funds, UIF, as well as medical aid had not been paid over, Kruger said SAPO had been partly servicing the outstanding amounts on PAYE, UIF and the pension fund since 2021.
He said staff medical aid contributions were up to date for 2022.
“During the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, the Post Office's revenue was severely affected and top management at that time had no choice but to put some payments on hold,” Kruger said.
“Part payments have since 2021 been made for the PAYE, UIF and the pension fund, and the Post Office intends to settle the historic debt as soon as possible,” he said.
The Sunday Times recently reported that nationally, Telkom had threatened to cut off SAPO’s IT services over a R225m outstanding debt.
This means that social grant recipients would only be able to withdraw their money from supermarkets or ATMs, and vehicle licence renewals could only be done at the traffic department.
While the Port Alfred branch of the Post Office is temporarily closed, customers in Ndlambe can use the Kenton-on-Sea branch, which remains open.
We locked them out in an effort to get some response from the Post Office as to when they intended to start paying the rent’