The Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) reserved judgement on Thursday in a complaint by eight publishers against the South African Post Office (SAPO).
CCC chairperson JCW (Jacobus) van Rooyen said the committee would make its judgement and recommendations in seeking a rational solution to the problems by July 16 or 17.
The publishers alleged that they had suffered material harm by the late or nondelivery of their publications through the post to customers during successive postal strikes over several years. They called for the CCC to add conditions to SAPO’s licence (under Icasa), such as requiring service-level agreements, to fulfil its obligations in terms of the South African Post Office Act and develop performance targets, as well as detailed timeframes, for review.
Alternatively, the publishers requested that the exclusivity afforded to the SAPO to deliver certain mail be removed if it could not provide adequate services, enabling other applicants to provide the services, or a possible suspension of the SAPO’s licence for noncompliance, as a last resort, said BKM attorney Vanessa Jacklin-Levin.
The publishers might later seek compensation for commercial loss.
Johannesburg Bar Council member Advocate Pule Seleka said at the hearing that it had been impossible for the SAPO to deliver the post during strikes and during the severe five-month strike that took place last year, and that it was under administration currently to correct the problems it faced.
Van Rooyen highlighted that a reasonable timeframe was required for communication, including communication between the parties, complaints resolutions and the procedures of the CCC, noting the long delays in communication from the SAPO in responding to the publishers prior to the hearing.
However, he also emphasised that, for obligations under statute, impossibility to effect them could apply.
The committee, which included Nomfundo Maseti, Mapato Ramokgopa, Councillor N Batyi and Professor Kasturi Moodliyar, would review the evidence before it and deliver a judgement after two weeks.