Committee set up to probe Deeds Office
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 00:00
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
GOVERNMENT has set up a committee to deal with suspected
corruption and alleged mismanagement at the Deeds Office that has seen fake title deeds flooding the property market.
A 16-member all-stakeholders committee will also look into other issues affecting the Deeds Office. Two members are representing each of the eight selected stakeholders to fight rampant underhand deals at the Deeds Office and line departments.
The members were drawn from the Law Society of Zimbabwe (conveyancers), the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the High Court, the Surveyor General’s Office, Deeds Office, Zimra, Estate Agents Council and the Registrar General’s Office.
Chief Registrar of Deeds and Companies Mr Fidelis Maredza chairs the committee.
The committee was established following a public outcry over the rate at which fake title deeds were being used to dupe innocent homeseekers of their hard-earned cash.
The bulk of the fake documents were discovered in Bulawayo where such fraudulent activities were being handled.
In a bid to verify the authenticity of the title deeds, several people were shocked to learn that the information on the doctored title deeds in their hands would be different from those kept at the Deeds Office.
Justice and Legal Affairs Deputy Minister Obert Gutu confirmed the development. He said the ministry has instructed permanent secretary Mr David Mangota to liaise with the Chief Registrar of Deeds to find ways of ending the fake title deeds problems.
“We have directed the permanent secretary to work with the Deeds Office in a bid to fight corruption that has led to the flooding of fake title deeds. We are yet to get a report on the progress on May 2,” Deputy Minister Gutu said.
A Harare lawyer Mr Lloyd Mhishi, who specialises in property conveyance, confirmed being part of the committee saying the issue of fake deeds should be curbed before many more unsuspecting people lose cash to conmen.
“I am part of the committee that seeks to address the issue of fake title deeds. A lot of people have lost cash to conmen in property deal. Fake deeds have deceived many people and the committee needs to come up with solutions to save the unsuspecting homeseekers,” he said.
Mr Mhishi proposed computerisation of the Deeds Office system to minimise fraud.
Most of the people, who visit the Deeds Office for verification, are referred to the police’s fraud squad after realising that they would have been conned.
Last week Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa expressed concern over delays and inefficiencies in some public offices including the Deeds Office.
“I receive bad reports about the Deeds Office, Intellectual Property and the Companies Office.
“For efficiency, I would suggest that stand alone Deeds Office, a stand alone Intellectual Property Office and a separate Companies’ Office should be created.
“There are inordinate delays in the public offices to an extent that it takes weeks to register a property. When I was still practising, registration would take 48 hours only,” he said.
Minister Chinamsa invited all people with ideas and ways to improve efficiency in the public offices.
Another lawyer Ms Jackie Sande from Sande and Partners law firm said the committee should consider upgrading the entire registry system to minimise fraud.
“There is need to upgrade the land registry system and bring it at par with international standards. The committee should consider putting in place security measures to protect potential buyers. Verification of the authenticity of title deeds should be simple and available at the click of a button as in other jurisdictions,” said Ms Sande.