Dr Siphokazi Koyana, Ph.D: Re-registering My Company
I first realised something was amiss when my bank called to inform me that my business was reflecting on its system as de-registered. I called my accountant immediately to see if this was true. He confirmed that it was but promised that he would help me get it re-registered soonest. I had thought as my accountant, he was taking care of such payments on my behalf. He apparently had assumed I was taking care of CIPC stuff myself. Regardless, being de-registered meant that my company had been removed from the list of active businesses on the database of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) for not paying the annual R115 required to remain registered. This was at the end of 2012. My company, which had been operating since 2002, it turned out, had been de-registered since 2011. After many reminders to my very busy accountant, who kept promising me that he would sort this out for me, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and re-register my company myself. Little did I realize what a nightmare that would prove to be.
Firstly, the website was not useful at all. Each time I tried to log on, it was down. The real problem finally caught up with me a year later, when I was trying to move into a better office building. The property agent and the landlord would not even consider us as potential tenants if our company was de-registered.
I then drove from Johannesburg to the CIPC offices at the dti complex in Sunnyside, Pretoria, to find out first-hand what it was I really needed for re-registration. The queue was long but moved fast. The list of documents to submit was long but not daunting. One of the requirements was to pay the penalty fee of R750 at the bank, which I did immediately.
The next stop was the Pretoria News building. I had to advertise in the paper that I was applying to re-register my company and invite anyone who had reason to contest that to do so in writing within seven days. This cost me R450. My next stop was the Deeds office. I queued and finally paid R280 to get the receipt necessary to proceed with the application. Next in line was the Office of the Treasury. When I got there, the reception had run out of copies of the template of the letter I had to submit to the relevant official. The people who would normally have the template were upstairs in a meeting, which would take an hour. And so I had to wait in the reception lounge that long. I finally got the template and had to populate it with information and details specific to my company. The quickest way to do this was to go to the nearest internet shop, type the letter as required, print and sign it and then return it to the Office of the Treasury. Well, I managed to find a dingy internet store and submitted immediately. In this letter I had to state why I had let my company get de-registered. I explained the misunderstanding with my accountant. I was told the letter of approval from the relevant officer would be sent to me in four to six weeks! Meanwhile, I still had to get a copy of my I.D. with a notary’s stamp and an affidavit from the police station, explaining why I had let my company get de-registered. When I got to the police station, I had to wait in the very long queue. By the time I made my way out of Pretoria it was already 17:00; I had been there since 9:00. The day was gone, and I was exhausted by the summer heat and waiting in those queues with nothing to do.
Three months went by and no confirmation of re-registration was emailed to me. It was now May. When I finally made my way to Pretoria again, the whole system had been changed and the CIPC frontline/customer care office had been moved to the second floor of Sunnyside Mall! The good thing is the CIPC had done away with the tsotsis who pretend to be helpers outside their building. The bad thing is I discovered that my application was never registered in the CIPC office. Needless to say, R1 480 (excluding petrol costs) and many hours later on the road and in queues, I subsequently had to start from scratch: Copy of Advert, Deeds Office, police affidavit and I.D., etc. The proof of bank account letter would no longer suffice, I was to learn. I now had to submit all my bank statements from February 2011 to April 2012 to show that the company was actively in business for at least a full year after it was de-registered. My accountant of many years had lost my back-dated bank statements! That is another story for another day. I submitted all 88 pages, for which my bank charged R21 per page! At least the CIPC honoured the R750 payment I had made initially, as that, at least, reflected on its system. The CIPC has emailed the confirmation of receiving my application four months after I had initiated the re-registration process. The next step will be to submit my annual returns, and then my company will finally be re-registered. Wish me luck! In case you missed it, the moral of the story is do not be careless like me–make sure you pay your annual CIPC fees and always save your original hard copies or electronic files of your bank statements before you give your accountant copies for tax or any filing purposes.
By Dr Siphokazi Koyana, Ph.D