The South African Post Office (SAPO) is on a mission to reinvent itself and reclaim its place as the country’s primary parcel handling service. But with various courier services having fulfilled that role for several years, SAPO faces an uphill battle. Recently, the state-owned enterprise turned to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to have legislation dating back to 1998 enforced.
In 2019, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa found privately owned PostNet contravened the Postal Services Act by transporting and delivering small parcels weighing 1 kg or less. This after SAPO lodged a formal complaint with ICASA in 2018. In its ruling, ICASA stated the delivery of small packages was a “reserved” service and that SAPO was the only institution licenced to deliver such parcels. ICASA further found that, limiting the delivery of small parcels to SAPO only is constitutionally justifiable.
Currently, various private courier companies have joined forces with PostNet to take ICASA’s finding on review before the High Court. Should the High Court rule in SAPO’s favour, it could have a dramatic impact on the way we send and receive goods. Here’s how the Postal Services Act of 1998 could affect you:
- SAPO says the average time it takes for the delivery of domestic parcels is six working days. This effectively means the average delivery time of two to three working days that most courier services offer will be doubled.
- The following items will have to be delivered by the SA Post Office:
- All letters, postcards, printed matter. This EXCLUDES newspapers and periodicals, unaddressed mail, legal court documents, trade announcements, circulars, printed extracts from newspapers or advertisements not addressed to a specific person.
- Small parcels weighing 1 kg or less which can fit into a box measuring 458 mmm (l) by 324 mm (w) by 100 mm (h).
- Based on the above criteria, valuable items such as cell phones, smaller gadgets, credit and debit cards and passports will have to be sent via SAPO.
- Private senders such as individuals providing goods from home such as make-up, mechanical components and other small items won’t be able to use courier services to send their goods. This will also apply to small businesses.
- The Postal Services Act does not include the delivery of food items via food delivery services, meaning fast food deliveries won’t be affected.
Sources: SAPO | ICASA