Essential-service permits mistakenly awarded to small businesses will be revoked
The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) said on Tuesday it was withdrawing "essential services" permits given to some small businesses.
The CIPC discovered several businesses had fraudulently obtained certificates or were not supposed to have been approved when they initially filed applications on the Bizportal website.
“As was made clear when the automated certificate was issued by the CIPC, that the provision thereof was based on information provided by the registered company itself, and that possession thereof does not in itself constitute the right to continue operating during the lockdown period,” the department of trade and industry said.
“The operation of any essential service is subject to full compliance with the applicable lockdown regulations and that the company falls within the scope of essential services as defined in the regulations.”
The department said a number of businesses applied but did not comply with the conditions. Unless a company is listed as an essential service or goods supplier, it is illegal for it to remain operational during the lockdown.
“It is a criminal offence for any business to continue operating during the lockdown period if it is not providing an essential service, as defined in the applicable regulations and direction, unless such business can be operated using work-from-home arrangements. It is also a criminal offence for any business which misrepresents the nature of its operations in order to obtain a CIPC certificate.”
The CIPC said it had since reviewed which businesses complied. It found that pubs, taverns, restaurants, fast food outlets and pizza parlours had applied for and obtained permits.
“These businesses are not eligible to continue operating during the lockdown period in terms of the regulations and directions issued by government. Businesses in the CIPC database that are not eligible to continue operations during the lockdown have had their certificates cancelled and will be handed over to the SA Police Service for further investigation and potential prosecution,” the CIPC said.
It called on businesses which were not essential services to stop operating.