Historic Simon’s Town post office to close

The Simon’s Town post office building in 1969.

The Simon’s Town post office, which was established around 1814, will close its doors for good at the end of October.

It will merge with the Fish Hoek branch to become one of 45 branches in the “greater Cape Town area”, according to SA Post Office spokesman Johan Kruger.

This is the third post office in the far south to close its doors this year.

The Muizenberg post office closed in February due to a “loss of income caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a rental dispute” (“End of an era for Muizenberg post office,” Echo, March 17) and the Valyland post office closed in June to merge with the Fish Hoek branch (“Valyland post office to close,” Echo, June 9).

Mr Kruger said Simon’s Town post boxes would be moved to Fish Hoek, and Simon’s Town residents would now collect their post in Fish Hoek. Their addresses and postal code will stay the same, he said.

According to Simon’s Town Museum archives, the first post office in Simon’s Town was housed in The Residency, which is now the Simon’s Town Museum.

In the mid-1800s, the post office moved to the Runciman’s building, and later a custom-built double-storey building was built on the corner of Wharf Street and St George’s Street next to the Customs and Immigration office. The post office was on the ground floor and the postmaster lived above.

Mail was originally delivered from Cape Town to Simon’s Town by a post wagon, the army, and the Royal Mail coach and delivery days were inconsistent varying from twice a day to twice a week at times.

With the introduction of the railway line in 1890, a more regular service was established.

In 1969, the post office building was demolished and the new building, set back to accommodate road widening, was built.

The new building was then sold in 1996 and demolished in 1997, to make way for Quayside Lodge, with a small space below for the post office.

According to a Simon’s Town Historical Society Bulletin, dated January 2000, a uniform rate of postage was introduced, charged by the weight of letters, by January 1846, and adhesive postage stamps were introduced on September 1, 1853.

Up to then, postage had been paid in cash, and the stamps were only used for local letters. January 1865 saw the start of the penny post to Simon’s Town

The act which introduced penny postage to Simon’s Town was The Postage Act No 30 of 1864. It stipulated that there had to be two posts per day between the participating post offices.

At the time, Simon’s Town had only one post per day. When the railway to Wynberg opened on December 19, 1864, the post office called for tenders for the conveyance of mail between Wynberg and Simon’s Town twice a day each way.

The Simon’s Town Museum’s archives indicate that all seaman and non-commissioned army personnel received free mail, from 1826 until April 13, 1911, when this privilege was revoked.

In 1865, The Simon’s Town Royal Mail was operated by Vincent and Grout’s omnibuses and left from the Central Hotel twice a day, bound for Wynberg station where mail was taken to Cape Town. The service was taken over by Saban Joseph’s Royal Mail Cart in 1867 and also ran twice a day from the Central Hotel to Wynberg.

The current branch manager Joe Ruiters said he had moved around the peninsula during his career with the SA Post Office, but he had been stationed at Simon’s Town since 2018.

He said he had not been informed where he would be stationed once the office closed but he felt he could still be of service to the SA Post Office and was ready to serve the community as he had done for many years.

Teller Ntombi Ndwandwa said she had started working for the SA Post Office as a cleaner in 2010. She was trained as a teller and has worked at the Valyland, Longbeach, Fish Hoek, and Muizenberg branches.

“I was a permanent employee at the Muizenberg branch when it closed down, and now it is happening again. It is a stressful situation,” she said.

Teller Andiswa Matinse said she had been working at the Simon’s Town branch since 2018. She said not knowing where she would be stationed was “very stressful”, but she was ready to continue serving the community.

Teller Davina Ramoshaba, who was absent during the Echo’s visit last week, has been working at the branch since 2008.

Mr Kruger said the staff and equipment would be redeployed to other branches where there was a need.

“The post office is completing a process of rationalising its branch network,” he said.

The Simon’s Town post office building in 1996.
Simon’s Town post office staff, from left, are branch manager Joe Ruiters and tellers Andiswa Matinse and Ntombi Ndwandwa in front of the building.