Govt cautions prospective developers on fraudulent practices in land acquisition

Written by  Gladys Nthenda

Following a spate of incidents of prospective developers being defrauded by unscrupulous people impersonating officers working in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, government has advised the public that such transactions are done through designated banks and not through any other agent.

Msosa: Payment should go to government bank accounts Msosa: Payment should go to government bank accounts

A statement from the Ministry, notes with great concern that fraudsters have been calling people advising them that they have been allocated plots in low density areas in Lilongwe, Mzuzu or Blantyre.

The fraudsters then advise the unsuspecting developers to send them certain amounts of money, through Mobile Cash Transfers or their personal bank accounts.

The statement which quotes the Ministry’s Principal Secretary Charles Msosa, states that payments are made either in cash or using bank certified cheques payable to Malawi Government.

Msosa explains in the statement that the appointed banks then issue appropriate receipts and government simultaneously issues General Receipts for the money paid to the bank.

He emphasizes that payments in form of development charges and other related fees, are only effected after the respective Regional Commissioners of Lands have endorsed on the offer letters issued by the same officer authorizing the bank and the accounts office to accept payment and issue the Government General Receipts.

He informs the public to report any suspected land malpractices to authorities for action.

“The public is, therefore, strongly advised to immediately report to the Police any person who demands money from them through telephone calls on the pretext that such money will be paid to the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development so that they can be allocated plots in their preferred areas,” the statement quotes Msosa.

Msosa also warns people that the Ministry does not allocate plots through telephone calls arguing that offer letters are always issued in writing and are signed by the Commissioner for Lands and the three Regional Commissioners.

According to the statement; any person who deposits money into a personal account of someone claiming to be an agent of the Ministry or an agent of some senior officers after being advised to do so through the telephone, will be doing so at his or her own risk.

It adds that the Ministry will therefore not entertain any financial claims or any claim at all, resulting from being cheated by such fraudsters.

Clients are informed that before paying money for any property from any person, they should verify the authenticity of the title deeds and the certificates of lease or land certificates with the respective Regional Commissioners for Lands.

The Ministry has also expressed concern over fraudsters who are preparing fake title deeds or lease documents in respect of public land which has already been allocated to other developers by the Ministry.

It further notes that the fake documents are presented to the prospective purchasers as if they have been prepared by this Ministry and sometimes forge signatures of previous Commissioners for Lands and backdated to appear as if they were prepared sometime back.

“These fraudsters impersonate genuine plot owners and use fake identity cards and the unsuspecting prospective purchasers consider them to be genuine vendors and effect payment for the pieces of land which legally do not belong to the purported vendors,” bemoaned Msosa.

In a related development the Ministry says it is seeking assistance of the Malawi Law Society to advise its members who authenticate documents and verify all legal instruments before registration.

This, the Ministry believes, will address the impersonation by the fraudsters and in identifying persons involved beyond reasonable doubt in accordance with Section 105 and Rule 6 (2) of the Registered Land Act.

Presidential Advisor on Youth Vuwa Kaunda is one of the victims who has been swindled K1.4 Million on a dubious land transaction.

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