After Malawi Police Service arrested three people for allegedly establishing a parallel Lands office and selling plots to unsuspecting buyers using dubious documentation, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) is interested to interrogate two Asians businesspersons involving the deal.
Police arrested Mustag Mahomed, Chifuniro Simumbe and lawyer Umahu Mataka. They were also looking for aA fourth suspect, Alex Mawaya.
The syndicate has been discovered after President Peter Mutharika had directed the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to attend to a lot of complaints on double land allocations and issuing of illegal certificates and deeds, according to the ministry’s Secretary Joseph Mwandidya.
ACB sources told Nyasa Times that there is a probe in the land grabbing syndicate.
“They used First Lady’s name illegally to grab land ,” a source said.
According to Mwandidya, the busting of the parallel Lands office has connected the missing links his ministry encounters daily as people complain about having their plots sold or one plot sold to more than one buyer.
He said: “We have complaints often at our office where people complain of their plots being sold without their knowledge.”
Information corroborated with the ministry indicates that about six plots have since been confirmed to have been sold, but the proceeds were not remitted to the Malawi Government Account Number One.
The six plots fraudulently sold include plot number Area 47/1219 allegedly sold by Mahomed at K300 million while Simumbe and Mawaya are suspected to have sold plot numbers Area 43/999, Area 43/998, Area 43/995, Area 43/994 and Area 43/993 at K50 million each.
Mwandidya said the issues of illegal allocation of land could be common throughout the country but what has been discovered is for Lilongwe.
“We will soon be working in other cities of Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu to find out if there are similar situations where people were forging signatures and providing official stamps when allocating illegal land,” he disclosed
The Secretary for Lands said all illegally acquired land and plot would be withdrawn from buyers immediately.
“We are urging Lilongwe residents to come to the Ministry to crosscheck check their documents so that they should exactly know whether they own their land or not before losing it to government,” he said.
Private practice lawyer Chikosa Silungwe, who has done international consultancies on land issues, described the busting of the ring as confirmation of corruption in transactions relating to land in the country.
“This confirms that there corruption in land transactions in Malawi which needs to be dealt with. There is need to revamp the land registry system, create an electronic one with various access authorities for various levels of officers,” he said in quotes reported in the press.
Silungwe observed that the current system is easy to tamper with because it is manual and that even junior officers can sign what would purport to be a bona fide title deed document.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :