Landlords have seized equipment and kicked out the South African Post Office from their malls for not paying rent.
According to the Post Office, it has resolved most of these rental disputes, but two post offices East of Pretoria remain closed: Parkview Shopping Centre in Moreleta Park and Menlyn Retail Park in Newlands.
After speaking to a senior Post Office official who is responsible for the region, MyBroadband was informed that Parkview Shopping Centre has leased the premises where the Post Office was located to a new business.
The Post Office has yet to secure a new location for the branch.
MyBroadband was also informed that the Sheriff of the Court seized Post Office computers and other equipment at the Menlyn Retail Branch.
Notices on the doors of the branch simply state: “Closed until further notice”.
The seizure of the Post Office’s equipment led to speculation that it had been declared bankrupt and its assets were being seized to cover its debts.
However, a more likely explanation is that Menlyn Retail Park exercised its rights over its tenants’ property to cover rent in arrears.
The Post Office official informed MyBroadband that they have got their equipment back from the Sheriff and are busy reinstalling their computers at the Menlyn Retail location.
A spokesperson for the Post Office confirmed that the dispute with Menlyn Retail has been resolved and that they will reopen on 19 November 2020.
When queried about the disputes with its landlords, the Post Office provided the following statement:
“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.”
Menlyn Retail Park did not respond by the time of publication.
Post Office in dire straits
A recent High Court judgement in a matter between the Post Office Retirement Fund and the South African Post Office has provided insight into the dire situation the Post Office finds itself in.
The High Court judgement revealed that the Post Office’s year-to-date loss as at 31 July 2020 was R1.066 billion.
Also as of 31 July 2020, only 55 of the Post Office’s 1,416 operational branches were profitable.
The Post Office submitted that its year-to-date revenue was below budget by R922 million (55%). Much of this was due to the effect of the COVID-19 regulations.
According to the Post Office, its postal services revenue for July 2020 was R125 million – below budget by 49% mainly as a result of the COVID-19 regulations. Bulk mail revenue also suffered. During July 2020 it was R91 million – 39% below budget.