Post Office delivers package — 13 years late

A family in Durban has been left stunned after taking delivery of a package from the South African Post Office that was sent over 13 years ago.

The Hanekoms of the Upper Highway Area recently found two “shabby” parcel arrival notification slips from the local post office in their barely-used home post box.

The first said there was an inbound parcel at the branch that needed to be collected, while the second was a final notice for collection of the same package.

“Barely legible documents — obviously not aware that the printer comes with a cartridge — indicated that we needed to pay approximately R65 for the parcel to be released,” parcel recipient Sanja Hanekom stated on Facebook.

“Since we were not expecting a parcel, we were rather confused to discover that a parcel with my husband’s name and our address is held hostage at the local post office.”

When Hanekom and her husband arrived at the post office and handed in the slips, they stood bemused as a worker dragged out a large, heavy, battered, and excessively taped-up parcel.

“We looked at each other in disbelief,” Hanekom said.

They asked the employee if she knew who had sent the parcel, but her response was apparently “mumbled” and inaudible.

They noticed the originating postal stamp on the package stated it was sent in 2010. The package’s waybill confirmed the original shipping date.

“The once-lost parcel was sent to us 13 years ago by my dad when our child was born,” Hanekom said.

The package contained several items  — a stack of interior design magazines, a pair of sneakers, a tea set, flavoured teas, and two cards congratulatory cards from relatives — which her father had sent from New York in March 2010.

The package recently received by the Hanekom family: Credit: Sanja Hanekom/Facebook

When she sent a WhatsApp to her father sharing images of the package and its content, he was similarly stunned and could not remember what he had originally sent.

Hanekom’s father had used a priority mail option to send the package.

While it’s unclear what the promised turnaround time for this service was back in 2010, the Post Office’s existing expedited mail service should take 4-5 business days for international destinations.

Hanekom joked that South Africans should not worry about their packages being handled by the Post Office.

“The South African Postal Office will take good care of your parcel and deliver it to you in due time, that is if you are still alive and have not moved to another address,” she jabbed.

She told MyBroadband it would have been interesting to know all the places where the package had been on its journey to their post office.

Dismal for a decade

It should be emphasised that a part of the package’s handling outside of South Africa would not have been the responsibility of the SAPO.

While it is unclear exactly who or what contributed to its lengthy delay, SAPO has developed a notorious reputation for late deliveries and missing packages.

For over a decade, it has failed to meet the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa’s) mandated delivery success targets.

The closest it ever came to the downward-adjusted target of 92% in the past ten years was during the 2019/2020 financial year, when it successfully delivered 89.25% of its mail within the allowed time.

MyBroadband has conducted several mail delivery tests over the years, the most recent conducted last year using low-power tracking devices that run on South Africa’s Sigfox network.

We waited eight months for one of these packages to be sent from Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) to Centurion, only for it to be returned to sender.

A tracker we had put in the package showed it had been transported to Johannesburg 64 days (over two months) after being sent.

Although it landed at a branch near the delivery address at one point, the Post Office never notified us to collect it.

Since we had the parcel’s location, we even visited three of the closest post office branches to try and collect it. However, without a reference number, the staff could not look for it.

184 days after it arrived in Johannesburg, the package was shipped off to Durban, before being taken back to Gqeberha.

Packages sent via private couriers between the same two destinations have typically taken less than a week to go from origin to final destination.

The table below shows the full results of our Post Office delivery tests in 2022.

Post Office Parcel Service
Service Working days to notice of arrival
Centurion Port Elizabeth Ordinary 57
Centurion Port Elizabeth Registered 32
Port Elizabeth Centurion Ordinary 163 (parcel returned to sender)
Port Elizabeth Centurion Registered 6

MyBroadband asked the Post Office for comment, and it did not respond by the time of publication.

Now read: Makro plans to offer guaranteed next-day delivery thanks to new Walmart software

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments


Share this article
Post Office delivers package — 13 years late