Article by P Assenmacher (Assenmacher Brandt Attorneys)
All businesses to be allowed to provide essential services during the lockdown period will be required to seek approval from the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (“DTIC”) in terms of the lockdown Regulations published on 25 March 2020.
Such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (“CIPC”) Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za to obtain a certificate from the CIPC allowing them to continue trading.
The Bizportal website contains a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC. The application requires a simple declaration with minimal registration details, type of business/trade involved in, what trading name if any is used and whether it meets the requirements contained in the essential services list, the contact details of the person applying as well as the number of employees who will be working during the lockdown period. The CIPC registry will then pre-populate the remaining company information and email a certificate stating that the business is allowed to remain trading. The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities requiring proof that the business has been given Government permission to trade and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement only in the course of that trade.
DTIC has emphasised that false applications to the CIPC,i.e misrepresentation of being an essential service per the Regulations will be regarded as a fraudulent application and will render the application liable to criminal prosecution and sanction.
The relevant ‘head of institution’ meaning the accounting officer of a public institution and the chief executive officer or the equivalent of a chief executive officer of a private institution must complete Annexure “C” to the said Regulations for employees who are authorised by the company to perform the essential services for which the company is authorised by CIPC. The head of institution may delegate this function, as may be required in line with the complexity and size of the business operations. Attached hereto is an example of such a certificate having been issued to a particular company by CIPC.