This information has been extracted from the “Official Year Book of the Union of South Africa and of Basutoland, Bechuanaland Protectorate, and South Africa 1934
The first ocean mail contract was entered into in 1876 and provided for a regular weekly mail service, the passage between the United Kingdom and Capetown to be completed in twenty-six days. In 1899 an agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the various colonies and states of South Africa for the adoption of a scheme proposed by the Cape Colony Post Office, under which the cost of the ocean mail service was borne proportionately by the participating British and South African administrations, on the basis of the use made of it by each Administration.
The Cape Colony Administration was responsible for the management of the South African ocean mail service on the basis of this agreement up to the date of the Union.
The contract with the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company had force for ten years from the 1st October, 1912, and was extended for a further two years from the 30th September, 1922, subject to a year’s notice. The duration of the voyage is 16 days 15 hours in each direction, with the option of a reduction to 16 days on the voyage to Southampton on payment for an additional subsidy. The subsidy paid is £225,000 per annum, of which, however, £27,000 is paid in consideration of the mail steamers commencing and terminating their voyages at Durban instead of Capetown. Great Britain, Southern Rhodesia, and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, formerly contracting parties, withdrew on the 30th September, 1934.
A new contract has not yet been arranged, but the former agreement maintains for the present, on the basis of a year’s notice on either side.
Postal communication is maintained between South Africa and Australia, India, and the Far East by means of private ships as opportunity offers.