Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The South African Post Office (SAPO) Services branches in KwaZulu-Natal are on alert for dodgy parcels after staff in Johannesburg took ill when they came into contact with a powdery substance. 

The SA Post Office temporarily suspended mail sorting operations at Witspos as an employee health precaution a statement read. All affected employees were discharged from hospital after treatment. 

 SA Post Office Communications Division Johan Kruger  said that SAPO has temporarily suspended mail sorting operations at the Witspos mail sorting centre in Johannesburg as a precautionary measure following an incident where several of its mail processing employees fell ill after being exposed to a potentially hazardous substance that spilled from a parcel.

"At approximately 19:00 last night (Thursday), a parcel originating from outside of South Africa containing a white powdery substance was reported in one of the sections of the Witspos mail processing centre. Following the cordoning off of the area for investigation, it emerged that 18 of our employees that have come into contact with the item had taken ill and they were immediately sent to hospital,"Kruger said. 

He said mail processing operations at the Witspos mail centre were then suspended as a precautionary measure to safeguard the safety and welfare of all our employees.

"The city of Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services and the police have been on site to assist with the incident since Thursday. Bio-management and environmental teams are currently rehabilitating the working area. It is anticipated that operations will resume in the next 24 hours,"Kruger said. 

All affected employees were discharged from hospital after treatment. 

"The SAPO employee wellness management team together with management have made contact with the families of the affected employees and will also be debriefing the Witspos mail centre employees,"Kruger said. 

Customers are requested to bear with SAPO during this time as all deliveries outbound from the Witspos mail centre are expected to be delayed by 24 hours.

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