Residents rescue postal deliveries

The Fish Hoek post office has no delivery vehicle.

Residents have stepped in to get mail delivered in the far south because the Fish Hoek post office doesn’t have a delivery vehicle.

The post office is the main distribution centre for post boxes and street deliveries in the far south, but it hasn’t had a delivery vehicle since February after “switching over to a new supplier for vehicles”, according to SA Post Office spokesman Johan Kruger.

It’s now fallen to ordinary residents to get the mail into post boxes and help the Fish Hoek post office stick to its motto: “We deliver whatever it takes.”

Post isn’t delivered to individual streets in Scarborough so residents have always relied on the post boxes near Camel Rock Restaurant in Pincushion Road to receive mail, according to Fran Gebhardt, a resident in the area.

She said that after investigating why there had been no mail deliveries for five weeks, Andre Greyling, from the Scarborough Village Association, came up with the idea to help the post office by collecting the postman and taking him to Scarborough to deliver mail.

“I just ran with the idea and communicated it to Kommetjie and Noordhoek residents as well,” said Ms Gebhardt.

“You can imagine the backlog that had accumulated over the first five weeks before we knew why there was no mail. It would have been nice for the post office to have made an announcement that they had no vehicle.”

Ms Gebhardt, who is one of the volunteers, collects the postman, along with the sorted mail for Scarborough, at around 9.30am once a week and takes him to Scarborough.

“I get him a cappuccino and he makes his deliveries,” she said.

He is then taken back to the Fish Hoek post office by 10.30am by Margherita Introna, another volunteer.

Ms Introna said that while the postal service was “somewhat of a dying breed”, it still served an important function, especially for business owners.

“I have a paid for a business post box in Scarborough while most residents have private post boxes that are free because there are no street deliveries. It is important for a business that doesn’t have a physical office to have a business address. My business has been going for more than 20 years and it is a well-established business address and it is not so easy to just change an established business address and this is why getting my mail delivered to this post box is so important to me,” she said.

Fiona Barnardo, who gets her mail delivered thanks to the volunteers, said she was grateful for what they were doing.

“We have many community-minded people in Scarborough who are always willing to help,” she said.

Noordhoek volunteer Jacqui Smith said she had been doing the pick-up and drop-off in Noordhoek for the past few weeks. As with Scarborough, Noordhoek does not have street deliveries and mail is delivered to post boxes.

“I thought it would help the community as well as the post office to prevent a snowball effect. It is obviously not a long-term solution, but I will continue to help as long as I can and as long as I am needed,” she said.

In Kommetjie, there are street and post-box deliveries, and volunteers Duncan Duffett and Terry Beaumont help with those by collecting the postman once a week.

Ms Gebhardt said the postman was “extremely passionate about his work” and despite there being no street deliveries in Scarborough, he did two street deliveries on Monday May 16 because the postal items only had the street addresses on them.

“He knew they were valuable documents and he was afraid they would get voided if not delivered properly,” she said.

The Fish Hoek postman could not be reached for comment.

The chairman of the Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, Brian Youngblood, said that in a recent Facebook poll done by the association, 13% of the community had voted for the closure of the post office while 87% had voted for it to stay open.

People had also complained about poor security at the post office after four men robbed it of an undisclosed amount of money on March 10 ( Fish Hoek post office robbed,” Echo March 17) and long queues for social-grant payments, he said.

Mr Kruger said the SA Post Office appreciated the community’s support.

“We have already deployed eight delivery motorcycles in the Cape Peninsula, which are particularly suited to urban deliveries, and more vehicles are planned,” he said.