Why a registered SMS is the same as a registered letter in South Africa

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Anybody ignoring registered SMSs demanding payment for outstanding accounts or loans on the basis that they are not the same as registered letters might be shocked to discover that this is not the case.

Two landmark judgements were handed down in March and May of this year which afford registered digital communication such as SMS the same legal weight as registered post.

The judgement was related to a case where demands for payment on a defaulted loan were sent to the defaulter’s mobile phone.

The SMS was reportedly compliant with Sections 12 and 19(4) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, as well as Section 129 of the National Credit Act.

Essentially the SMSs sent carried a registration certificate and included proof of content, proof of delivery and proof of receipt at a person’s chosen location. So, like a registered letter, these registered SMSs comply with regulations.

Indeed magistrates ruled that digital letters of demand carry the same weight as letters sent through the post, so long as they comply with the necessary requirements.

The registered SMSs that led to the judgement were made possible by Registered Communication which touts itself as a leading provider of electronic communication solutions.

“Sending registered communication digitally saves the sender time and money, as the cost of a Registered SMS or Email is nearly half the cost of a traditional registered letter,” Norman Colling, partner at Registered Communication said.

“Delivering a digital registered communication is instantaneous, meaning that the sender can receive an audited report confirming that the addressee has received the document within seconds, rather than waiting for the somewhat slower traditional registered mail delivery,” he adds.

Aside from the cost and time saving sending registered letters through the post just no longer makes sense.

South Africa has 37.5 million unique mobile subscribers according to the GSMA while in comparison the South African Post Office has 2 222 points of presence (including agencies and standalone branches) throughout South Africa.

Besides that, going to the Post Office is a chore and if you know you’re going to be standing in line to get a letter of demand how likely are you really to stand in that line?


[Image – CC BY SA RaSeLaSeD – Il Pinguino]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.