Lockdown: Trading as an essential service? Here’s how to get approval_1

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC)  in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown. 


This is in terms of the regulations published by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. 

Essential services to obtain certificate to trade during lockdown  


According to Patel, essential businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at www.bizportal.gov.za and obtain a certificate from the commission that allows them to continue trading during lockdown. 


The Bizportal website will contain a menu icon listed as “Essential Service Businesses” through which an application can be made to the CIPC.

Here’s what you will need to do 


The application will be a simple declaration requiring minimal registration details, such as: 

Type of business/trade involved in; What trading name if any is used; Whether it meets the requirements contained in the essential services list; The contact details of the person applying; and The number of employees who will be working during the lockdown period.


The CIPC registry will then pre-populate the remaining company information and e-mail a certificate stating that the business is allowed to trade during the lockdown period. 


The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities that indeed the business has been given government permission to trade and that its employees will have unrestricted movement only in the course of that trade.


“It should be stressed and noted that if you make a false application to the CIPC, and are indeed not an essential service as per the government regulations, such will be taken as a fraudulent application and will render yourself as an applicant liable to criminal prosecution and sanction,” said Patel. 


This service is available from Thursday 26 March. 

What constitutes an essential service? 


According to Dlamini-Zuma’s regulations, the following can be seen as an essential service during lockdown: 

Medical, health (including mental health), laboratory and medical services; Disaster Management, fire prevention, fire fighting and emergency services; Financial services necessary to maintain the functioning of the banking and payments environment, including the JSE and similar exchanges and insurance services; Production and sale of essential goods; Grocery stores, including spaza shops; Electricity, water, gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance; Critical jobs for essential government services as determined by heads of national or provincial departments in accordance with the guidance by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), including social grant payments; Birth and death certificates and replacement identification documents; Essential municipal services; Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick and children; Funeral services, including mortuaries; Wildlife management, anti-poaching, animal care and veterinary services; Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunication infrastructure and services; Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector; Cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services; Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services; Essential South African Revenue Service (SARS) services defined by the commissioner of SARS; Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials and traffic management services; Postal services and courier services related to the transport of medical products; Private security services; Air traffic navigation, civil aviation authority, cargo shipping and dockyard services; Gold, gold refinery, coal and essential mining; Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation and the lockdown; Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment; Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients; Services rendered by the executive, members of Parliament, members of the Provincial Legislature, members of local councils, the Judiciary, traditional leaders and national office bearers of political parties represented in parliament; Commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission, and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, and the public protector and deputy public protector; and Transport and logistics in respect of essential goods to neighbouring countries.