The DA has written to National Head for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, to request an investigation into large-scale fraud at the South African Post Office (SAPO).

The South African Post office hadn’t paid R700 million towards staff medical aid contributions putting some 22 000 people at risk of losing their medical aid, all because of greed or incompetence … or both.

During this week’s Parliamentary communication portfolio committee meeting, I asked the Post Office representatives about this revelation, and it was freely admitted that the Board were fully aware of the medical aid contributions not being paid. They claimed that the portion paid monthly by staff members and deducted automatically from their salaries, was paid to the medical aid, but that it was the 2/3 portion which was supposed to be paid by the Post office, which was not paid. It had not been paid for so long that the debt had racked up to a staggering R700 million.

The claim was then made that they were talking to the medical aid about the situation.

It was stated that the contributions were not paid because the Post Office does not make enough money. This seems to be fraud on a grand scale.

It is exactly for this reason that we requested a Hawks-investigation as a matter of urgency. There were further claims in a report before the portfolio committee that the Post Office have also not been paying pension contributions, UIF, PAYE or VAT.

Not only has the Post Office been in an array and a state of dysfunctionality for a decade, but it has proven to be just another failed ANC State-owned enterprise (SOE). Since I have been assigned to this portfolio a few weeks ago, my inbox has been filling with appeals from all over the country that the only local Post Office has been summarily closed. In one particular instance, it is claimed that a Post Office in Underberg was closed because the rent had been unpaid for over a year. The property had been rented since 2015, but in the last few years, the payments for rental, electricity and water were irregular and have in most cases or not been paid at all. The debt now stands at a whopping R243 010, 58. The owners of these Post Offices are simply told that there are no funds available.

The Post Office only has two options left. Either the South African Post Office is privatised, or it is shut down completely.

South Africans are infuriated to hear that it is being contemplated that further millions of their hard-earned tax money be spent on bailing out yet another collapsing SOE. This after a cool R80 billion just wasn’t enough to turn the entity around. Despite receiving this king’s ransom, they still managed to rack up a loss of R1.7 billion in 2020, with an even bigger loss projected for 2021.

The Hawks will soon reveal who exactly is scoring from this alleged fraud.

South Africans are struggling to put food on their tables, and nothing can excuse the pouring of millions down the drain of this particular bankrupt vanity project, especially when the money isn’t being used to pay the creditors the billions they are owed.

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Dianne Kohler Barnard MP

Dianne Kohler Barnard MP is the DA Shadow Minister of Communications.

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