The South African Post Office (SAPO) says that 235 more post offices are set to close their doors in 2024, with more retrenchments coming as a result.

This was revealed in a recent parliamentary Q&A, in which the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies was asked for an update on the SAPO’s Business Rescue Plan that was adopted in December 2023.

In his response, minister Mondli Gungubele noted that 235 post offices are due to close across the country, with most of them situated in the Free State and North West – followed by North Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.

Region No. of Post Offices
Central (Free State, North West) 104
Northern region (North Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West) 41
Western region (Western Cape, Northern Cape) 28
Eastern region (Eastern Cape) 24
KwaZulu-Natal 21
Gauteng (Most of Gauteng and Vaal Triangle) 17
Total 235

Gungubele added that the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) are not prepared to share the actual list of branches as it stands to be amended whilst the process of liaising with landlords is in progress and the possibility of branch relocations is at hand.

“Once the list is finalised, the same will be provided,” he said.

Along with this revelation, the minister confirmed that more retrenchments were underway as a result, although he couldn’t comment on the exact number.

“The BRPs have advised that they cannot disclose the proposed number of employees that will face retrenchment as the Section 189A facilitation process conducted by the CCMA is underway.

“The disclosure of a proposed number prior to the conclusion of the facilitation process jeopardizes the course of action,” said Gungubele.

When taking into account previous statements by Gungubele, these 235 offices that are due to close will take the total number to over 500 since the SAPO stated its cost-cutting measures.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were roughly 1,300 Post Office branches nationwide. This means that over a third of all post office branches in the country have now shut down in just a few years.

Regarding the jobs lost, reports from the SAPO revealed around 6,000 employees, accounting for 40% of the workforce, have been retrenched due to financial constraints.

Additionally, another 7,000 jobs are at risk as the embattled state-owned entity plans to save R1.3 billion in annual salaries as part of its business rescue proceedings.

At the end of last year, the SAPO BRPs, Anoosh Rooplal and Juanito Damons, noted that SAPO’s liabilities had reached R12.5 billion.

With only R4.5 billion in assets, the Post Office is technically insolvent with negative equity of R7.9 billion – meaning it is hopelessly insolvent and will need tremendous assistance to survive.

Despite this, the government is adamant that the SAPO is an essential service that provides vital services throughout the country, especially in remote areas where the SAPO is often the main link between people in South Africa.

As a result, the government budgeted a R2.4 billion bailout for SAPO and pledged an additional R3.8 billion.