South Africa: CIPC Cancels Essential Services Certificates of Several Companies

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has cancelled fraudulent certificates allowing companies to trade as essential services during the 21-day national lockdown.

"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 South African Police Services for further investigation and potential prosecution," said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on Tuesday.

The fraudulent issuing of the certificates was found during the course of the review of the essential service list of applications.

"The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has established that certain companies not designated as essential services have either fraudulently or negligently applied on the Bizportal website (www.bizportal.gov.za)," said the department.

The department has introduced a portal on the website run by the CIPC to log company details only where companies comply with the regulations issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 25 March 2020.

This follows the earlier announcement that businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services during the 21-day national lockdown would be required to seek approval from the dti.

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, upon review, has established that pubs, taverns, restaurants, fast food places, pizza parlours and the like have registered to continue operating during the lockdown, in violation of the applicable regulations as per the essential service list. These businesses are not eligible to continue operating during the lockdown period in terms of the regulations and directions issued by government."

The dti said the operation of any essential service is subject to full compliance with the applicable lockdown regulations and that a company falls within the scope of essential services, as defined in the regulations.

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