Attention all business owners: with the publication of the regulations issued by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs dated 25 March 2020 (“Lockdown Regulations”) you should by now have determined whether your business is eligible to qualify as an Essential Services Business or not (if you are still uncertain, give us a call!).
If you have determined that you are indeed a provider of ‘essential goods’ and/or ‘essential services’, you have probably asked yourself the following:
“What do I, or my employees, say or do, if we are questioned by an enforcement officer during this lockdown period?
Do I simply say I am a staff member of an “Essential Service Business” and be on my merry way or will they arrest me on the spot?”.
In terms of the Lockdown Regulations, it will be imperative for you to demonstrate to the enforcement officer that your movements are not restricted during this time. (Note, that you won’t be able to go out and about, outside of your scope of employment as an essential services provider!)
To this end, it will be best to produce some form of confirmation, right?
We can assist you in this regard by –
providing you with a letter from our office detailing your argument why your business falls within the scope of a provider of “Essential Services and Essential Goods” (if this is indeed the case), and which argument is in line with the Lockdown Regulations;
preparing a confirmatory letter to be signed by the ‘head of your institution’ / chief executive officer, and to be placed on your company letterhead, demonstrating how your business is providing ‘Essential Services’ and ‘Essential Goods’;
assistance with your application and registration as an “Essential Services Business” with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition via its Bizportal website and CIPC. (Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has 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 for them to trade during the period of the lockdown. Mr. Patel advised said that such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website and obtain a certificate from the Commission that allows them to continue trading. The certificate can then be used as evidence to authorities requiring same that indeed the business has been given government permission to trade and that its employees are able to have unrestricted movement ONLY in the course of that trade); and
ensuring that your staff members are in possession of a duly signed Annexure C Form: Permit to Perform Essential Services.
If you have these documents in place, you should be in a position to confidently proceed with your duties as an essential services provider.
Should an enforcement officer still proceed with an arrest, immediately make contact with your legal team who will be able to approach a court on an urgent basis, for a declaratory order.
For assistance with the above, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on 021 948 8273.
O’Reilly Law Team
Article by Brent Petersen. Brent Petersen is a commercial litigation associate at O’Reilly Law.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and not for providing legal advice. Acting on information given herein is done at your own risk and no attorney and client is formed hereby. We will update this post, as appropriate, and as this is a developing story.
O’Reilly Law Inc. is a corporate and commercial law firm in Cape Town providing legal solutions to Startups, Entrepreneurs and High-Growth Companies.