For months, disgruntled Hermanus residents have been complaining about delays in both sending and receiving mail and, as a result, have not only volunteered to help sort the mail at the Post Office but also deliver it.
Officially, the Hermanus Post Office has not given any reasons for these delays except to say that the Overstrand is a vast area and they do not have the capacity to ensure regular mail delivery.
“We have personal experience of mail from Scotland taking 8 months to reach us. Several locals have made a group offer to go into the Hermanus sorting office as volunteer sorters to alleviate the backlog,” says Hermanus resident Lynn Hardbattle.
Fiona Matthes, who has been living in Westcliff for the past five years, says she has not had a positive experience with sending mail. “I actually have a lot of trouble with the occasional mail going out. I sent registered forms to the UK and they just disappeared altogether. I was tracing the forms as far as OR Tambo and then suddenly they were just gone. I repeated the process, with the same result.”
Unofficially, Matthes was informed by an employee at the Hermanus Post Office that there are containers of mail that are still waiting to be sorted through. This, coupled with the fact that no volunteers are permitted to sort the mail, has resulted in the backlog of mail deliveries.
“I was led to understand that our offer to ease the current accumulation of undelivered mail was not acceptable, possibly due to Post Office procedures,” says Lynn. “I am unsure of the precise reasons although, surely, if the backlog is in sorting the mail then we won’t be able to deliver the massive amounts that have not been sorted.”
A manager at the Hermanus Post Office told The Village NEWS that although volunteer help would be appreciated, the appropriate authorities have not yet given the go-ahead. What this means is that they cannot allow any citizen to sort the mail who has not been given official clearance, due to confidentiality reasons.
However, the manager did ask that, for now, if any Overstrand resident has a complaint or enquiry, they can contact customer care on 0860 111502 or go to the post office to see the mail manager.
The Village NEWS attempted on three occasions to get official comment and clarity on the situation from the Hermanus Post Office. Several attempts, both by email and telephone, were also made to speak with the Post Office media spokesperson at the head office.
The Village NEWS wanted to know if the Post Office taking over South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) payments was partly to blame for the apparent shortage of staff and the delays in mail delivery. However, all attempts to date have been unsuccessful.