Post Office R359m in the red

Several Post Office branches have been forced to shut down today as they have not paid this month's rent.

FILE: Sapo leases more than 1,300 premises and owns 660 offices countrywide. Picture: Facebook.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Post Office (Sapo) in the Western Cape says it cannot yet comment on how it will pay its salaries this month.

The state owned enterprise's latest financial statement indicates a net loss of R359 million.

Several Post Office branches have been forced to shut down today as they have not paid this month's rent.

Sapo leases more than 1,300 premises and owns 660 offices countrywide.

The service has been crippled by an unprotected strike that's dragged on for months.

This is the first year the state-owned enterprise has had to operate without a state subsidy.

Western Cape spokesperson Martie Gilchrist has confirmed several outlets have been closed temporarily.

"We don't intend to keep them closed because the Post Offices provide an essential service according to us."

Last month, some Sapo employees called Parliamentarians to complain they had not been paid on time.

Gilchrest was unable to comment on whether salaries will be paid timeously next week.

"Yes we do have cash flow problems. I just hope that we can get the strike over with."

Gilchrest said Sapo believes the crippling strike will draw to a close before the end of the year.

"We hope it will end very soon because we are in discussion with the unions and two have signed an agreement with us, there is just one outstanding union and we hope to reach an agreement with soon."

In October, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele told Eyewitness News that small businesses, students who study by correspondence and those who get chronic medication by mail were suffering as a result of the prolonged and unprotected strike.

At the same time, the Southern African Institute of Fundraising (SAIF) says South Africa's charities are suffering serious financial losses as a result of the Post Office strike.

The SAIF says losses for non-profit organisations could amount to a total of more than R50 million.

Organisations such as the Salvation Army and children's cancer charity Choc say their direct mail fundraising drives have been unsuccessful as donors have not received their appeal letters.