The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the “DITC”) has issued guidelines for companies performing essential services to continue operations during the extended lockdown period, in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) (the “Act”).The guidelines provide as follows:

  • Only essential service providers registered in terms of the Companies Act, 2008 (Act No. 71 of 2008) (the “Companies Act”) are required to apply for a certificate to authorize operations during the extended lockdown period by using the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s (“CIPC”) BizPortal (www.bizportal.co.za) as of 17 April 2020. Other ‘essential service’ providers such as healthcare professionals and sole proprietorships (such as spaza shops) who are not in the ordinary course registered in terms of the Companies Act, do not require a certificate from CIPC, but should nevertheless comply with the Regulations;
  • The certificate will be sent via email using the details provided at the time of initial registration; and
  • The certificate will clearly state that it is applicable for the extended lockdown period which commences on 17 April 2020. This means that all certificates that were issued before 16 April 2020 are no longer valid and must be disposed of.

The Regulations as amended by Government Gazette No. 43232 on 16 April 2020 have further expanded the ambit of ‘essential services’ to include (among others): (a) wholesale produce markets, and informal fruit and vegetable sellers. Notably, the authorization for spaza shops and informal fruit and vegetable sellers to operate during the extended lockdown period should be obtained from the local municipality in the geographical area in which the spaza shop and informal fruit and vegetable sellers operate. All valid permits issued to these essential service providers before or during the declaration of the state of disaster and which fall due during this period, remain valid for an additional period of one month after the end of the national state of disaster; (b) gold, gold refinery, coal and mining; and (c) hardware, components and supplies required for any qualified trade persons solely for the purpose of emergency repairs at residential homes.

‘Essential goods’ have also been expanded to include: (a) hardware, components and supplies required by any qualified trade persons solely for the purpose of emergency repairs at residential homes; (b) hardware, components and supplies required by any entity engaged in the provision of essential services for any project related to the provision of water, electricity or other essential service; and (c) components for vehicles undergoing emergency repairs where such vehicle is used by a person engaged in essential services related work.

The Department has reiterated that issuance of certificates remains subject to companies complying fully with all the applicable Regulations available at link.

For further information, please reach out to Covington’s COVID-19 Task Force at COVID19@cov.com, Robert Kayihura at RKayihura@cov.com, and/or Mosa Mkhize at MMkhize@cov.com.

This post can also be found on CovAfrica, the firm’s blog on legal, regulatory, political and economic developments in Africa.