Durban -If you have sent mail to Australia, New Zealand, West Africa or the islands off Africa’s east coast, it's arrival could be delayed by several weeks.
This is because of a change to the security screening protocols for items airlifted to these countries.
SA Post Office KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Nobuhle Njapha said they had created procedures to accommodate changes to security screening protocols for outgoing parcels.
Njapha was responding to complaints from customers that delays at the Johannesburg International Mail Centre was affecting businesses that relied on mail.
Angus Clarke, a spokesperson for Africa Smiles, based in Hillcrest, said his business relied on the postal services to get goods out of the country timeously.
Africa Smiles is a wholesaler and retailer of a wide range of South African arts, crafts, beadwork, gifts and handmade products.
“We have customers who rely on our goods. Trading is important. A parcel leaving to Australia has been stuck in Johannesburg for three weeks. We cannot get clear answers from the postal services. Does a delay mean a day, a week or month?" he asked.
Clarke said they had stopped posting items until they received assurance that there would be no delays. He also has outstanding orders from the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
“We cannot accept payment and accept new orders because of the post office delay. We are informing customers that we cannot send parcels at the moment,” Clarke said.
Njapha said imported mail was not affected. They expected the situation to be fully normalised by next Tuesday (April 16).
"Mail destined for countries outside South Africa is often delayed when customers send items that are not allowed as air cargo, meaning that the mail bag has to be returned," she explained.
Among other things, no items containing lithium batteries or liquids can be airlifted as cargo
Njapha said creams and lotions were defined as liquids, and the SA Post Office has seen a sharp increase in the number of parcels containing liquids being returned by airlines.
"Customers are therefore requested not to include such items in parcels they send abroad. Other substances that may not be posted include any flammable or explosive items, living products, biological material, animal or animal products – including fur and ivory."
From April 1, surface mail was discontinued to New Zealand and all African countries except Botswana, Lesotho, eSwatini (Swaziland) and Mozambique.
"This decision has been taken to render a service with predictable delivery times," Njapha said.
In September 2018, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler said she had received a barrage of similar complaints.
Business Report said in January 2016 that the Post Office woes were having a negative effect on thousands of residents, businesses and motorists.