The community of Lamontville Township, south of Durban has rejected the proposed closure of the Post Office in the township. The decision has prompted residents to sign a petition to stop the closure as it will affect amongst others the elderly who collect their pension pay outs. They’ll be forced to travel to alternative Post Offices outside the area.
National Treasury revealed that the South African Post Office’s financial position continued deteriorating this year. Communications Minister Mondli Gungubele has said that 314 branches have been closed across the country between 1st of April 2020 and 5th of May 2023.
Most grant beneficiaries still use the Post Office to receive their grant payouts. The embattled entity’s woes have also resulted in over 500 000 grant beneficiaries not receiving their money due to technical glitches in the system. A 67-year-old pensioner, Helen Hadebe is one of them. She says this is not the first time she has not received her pension pay out from the Post Office.
“I almost died when I went to withdraw my money in April, I didn’t receive my money at the Post Office. They told me it’s somewhere. I went to SASSA and was told your money is at the Post Office but I couldn’t withdraw. I got my money in July and the debts had already piled up. I’m the only one with income, my children don’t work and I’m widowed. And then again in September, the same thing happened,” says Hadebe.
Residents are concerned that the closure of the local Post Office will have a negative impact on pensioners.
“That one is very pathetic it’s not acceptable because it means we are not recognised as senior citizens,” a resident explains.
“I feel that Post Offices should not close. We’re hearing people from SASSA telling us that this Post Office will close. Then they should give us an alternative that will be accommodating us the elderly if they close the Post Offices. We become a target if we use banks,” an elderly person said.
SASSA has advised pensioners to use alternative ways of payments.
“Beneficiaries who wish to receive their grants through their own personal bank accounts need a SASSA concent form for bank payment requesting for their grants to be paid directly to their bank accounts,” says Sandy Godlwana, SASSA KZN spokesperson.
In a statement, Post Office business rescue practitioner says they are unable to honour many of its financial obligations and this is why the entity was placed under business rescue. They say they are doing analysis that includes geographical reach of the branch and services rendered and this includes whether SASSA grant members are being paid from those particular branches.