No rent, no post office

2016-09-07 09:21
Parklane Shopping Centre's Dorpspruit post office has been closed allegedly due to failure of paying rent regularly and not signing a new lease agreement.

Parklane Shopping Centre's Dorpspruit post office has been closed allegedly due to failure of paying rent regularly and not signing a new lease agreement. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Parklane Shopping Centre’s Dorp­spruit post office has been closed indefinitely, allegedly due to irregular rent payments and failure to sign a new lease agreement since 2008.

File cabinets, desks and other items were removed by sheriffs of the court on Tuesday, while confused customers were turned away by distressed staff.

Three A4 notices were displayed at the entrance saying the office was “closed for business” and “closed until further notice”.

Parklane Shopping Centre manager Brett Austen Smith said the management had been trying to negotiate a new lease agreement with the head office for Dorpspruit since 2008.

“Despite mountains of correspondence, nothing ever happened,” he said.

“Head office paid arbitrary amounts of rent sporadically without any relation to the invoices that were sent to them,” he said.

The centre was forced to take legal action after sending numerous letters asking for payment and a new lease agreement.

“We have to have someone who is willing to pay and while I know the post office staff are upset that Dorpspruit is being shut down, it is up to [SA Post Office] head office to pay rentals and deal with leases.”

Austen Smith said the Dorpspruit office had been fairly busy and had 600 post boxes.

He added that the Post Office head office had been “incredibly difficult to negotiate with”.

A customer who would not be named said the closure of the office would make her work for an attorney’s office “very difficult”.

“I only learned today that the post office is closing.

“They told me that all the post will be going to Mayor’s Walk and we will have to wait a week until we can collect it.

“This will affect business. All registered post and sheriff’s returns come to our registered box at Parklane Shopping Centre, and now everything is upside down.”

South African Post Office spokesperson Bongani Mgoza, however, said the approved lease submission for Dorp­spruit expired in April 2015, but payments for rent had continued on a month-to-month basis.

“Lease payments from November 2014 were erratic due to our financial position at the time, and this resulted in the account being in arrears,” said Mgoza. He said all arrears up to March 2016 were paid in May 2016.

Mgoza said this delayed the lease renewal and added that the National Treasury had dictated that state entities could not make payments without an agreement in place.

“We are busy trying to get a short-term agreement with the landlord so that the payments since April 2016 can be paid up.

“We apologise to our customers because they should not be experiencing this inconvenience.

“The Post Office has largely pulled itself out of the challenges that started during the 2014 strikes, and is steadily seeing stability in the business.”

Mgoza said customers should collect their mail from the Mayor’s Walk post office, and that the Dorpspruit staff would be assigned to other branches.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  post office closure

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