Post Office strike stopping mail to continentally deployed soldiers

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The ongoing Post Office strike has impacted severely on the ability of 11 Field Postal Unit (FPU) to keep South African soldiers deployed continentally on the receiving end of good news in the form of letters and parcels from home.

Lieutenant Colonel Leon de Villiers, Officer Commanding 11 FPU, at its centre of operations on the eastern side of AFB Waterkloof in Centurion, said the strike had seen to it that the flow of mail and parcels from the Tshwane Mail Centre was “just about non-existent”.
11 FPU also offers postal services to civilians in the area around the base and this, De Villiers, said was “business as normal”.
“We cannot forward mail and parcels if we aren’t receiving these items from the mail centre that is supposed to deliver them to us,” he said.

Last month the Reserve Force unit marked its 50th anniversary with SA Army Director Reserves, Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer paying tribute to what is currently one of four postal units in the landward force.
11 FPU was founded by 11 voluntary postal workers on October 2, 1984, in response to a need for an efficient postal service for troops in the field. The unit’s name comes from the number of volunteers who were its first members.

An idea of the value the unit adds to the lives of soldiers deployed on peace support and peacekeeping missions continentally comes from the volumes handled at AFB Waterkloof.

In the 2007/08 financial year outgoing parcels totalled 6 969, the mass of mail handled was just under 200 000 kg and postage affixed was worth R434 886. By 2011/12 this had grown to 18 269 parcels, the mass to 246 749 kg and postage affixed to more than R610 000. Since then the number of parcels and mass of mail handled has decreased, mainly because there are now only two South African deployments on the continent.

Two accolades stand out in the unit’s history. The first was the use of 10 commemorative stamps at 11 FPU by the SA Post Office on October 9, 2012, to mark World Post Day and the second was being named the best Reserve Force Unit in the SA Army Signal Formation last year.