April the 14th 2020 in lockdown South Africa started as a regular day on Twitter until an unassuming chef tweeted about delivering prepared meals to one of her customers. The young entrepreneur tweeted a picture of the meal (that looked delectable might I add) business as usual right? It was until another Twitter user pointed out that we all need to stay home during the lockdown to minimize the Coronavirus spread. The budding entrepreneur clapped back with “would you like my essential services certificate?” referring to the certification that essential services get that allows them to operate during the lockdown

The retort seemed like a knockout by the chef, until the CIPC swooped in and exclaimed that prepared food is indeed NOT an essential service and the young entrepreneur’s certification got revoked. 

The CIPC is now a trending topic on Twitter, and registered business owners want to know what constitutes as an essential service. It’s crucial to understand where your registered business falls because the CIPC states that they reserve the right to revoke certificates that were issued based on alternative facts. 

The CIPC states that “Certificates that have been issued to businesses that do not provide essential services are being revoked,”. The CIPC also added that the onus is on businesses to go through the list of essential services and determine where they fall on the spectrum based on the regulations. Fraudulent applications will face legal implications from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. 

Make sure your business falls within the parameters of the guidelines to avoid legal action against your company and to avoid your certification being revoked three weeks into the lockdown. The instructions on what constitutes an essential service, according to the bizportal.gov.za website are:

Businesses can only apply if they belong to this list of essential services categories:

  • Health, Medical, Laboratory and medical services
  • Emergency services, Disaster, Fire, EMS
  • Finance, Banking, JSE/exchangers, insurance
  • Production and sale Category A regulations goods
  • Grocery stores, Spaza shops
  • Electricity, water, gas, fuel supply and maintain
  • Care services, social relief of distressed
  • Funeral service, mortuaries
  • Wildlife, anti-poaching, animal care, veterinary
  • Newspaper, broadcasting, telecommunications
  • Hygiene chemicals, medical, pharmaceutical
  • Cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste removal
  • Postal, courier, transport of medical products
  • Private security services
  • Air-traffic, Civil Aviation, Cargo Shipping
  • Essential mining, Gold, gold refinery, coal
  • Hotels, Accommodation, quarantine and isolation
  • Supply, critical repair on essential service
  • Transport essential staff, good and patients
  • Tow trucks, vehicle recovery
  • Call Centre for health safety social support
  • Harvest and storage of agricultural goods
  • Pest control
  • Sale of baby items

The list is cohesive, but it leaves a lot to interpretation. There is a more detailed list with example available here:


If it’s still unclear whether your business is an essential service provider or not, you can email the CCMA to make sure: