The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, has announced that all businesses permitted to provide ‘essential services’ during the national lockdown period in South Africa must first seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the “DTIC”). If obtained, the approval enables a business to operate during the mandatory lockdown period in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) (the “Act”), read in tandem with the regulations promulgated under the Act under Government Gazette number 43107 (as subsequently amended on March 25, 2020) (the “Regulations”).

The Regulations define ‘essential services’ as (among others): (a) grocery stores, including spaza shops; (b) electricity, water, gas and fuel production; and (c) laboratory and medical services. ‘Essential goods’ are defined as (among others): (a) food, such as any food product and non-alcoholic beverages; (b) cleaning and hygiene products, such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser; and (c) fuel, including coal and gas.

Companies that fall under the ‘essential services’ category must:

  1. Identify who in their business is classified as ‘essential,’ as identified by the permit to perform an essential service in Annexure C (Form 1) to the Regulations;
  2. Apply for a certificate using the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (“CIPC”) BizPortal website at www.bizportal.gov.za. The portal will contain a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Business,” which will activate the process; and
  3. Ensure that all members of staff who are classified as ‘essential’ carry their permits at all times from midnight on March 26, 2020 until April 16, 2020. Failure to present the permit will result in individuals being forced to return to their place of residence.

The DTIC has advised that companies that submit false applications which do not qualify as companies rendering an ‘essential service’ as per the Regulations, will be subject to criminal prosecution and sanction.

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