Malawi: Royal Motors Directors in Court Over Alleged Land Grab in Blantyre

5 December 2019

Directors of the Royal Motors Company are soon expected to appear in court to answer charges bordering on forgery of documents that facilitated the grabbing of the land belonging to Lunzu Estate Limited.

The land under dispute is near the Blantyre Campus of the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) next to Kameza Roundabout of the Chileka International Airport Road and is reported to be owned by the Matewere family whose last remaining shareholder was the late Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier, Colonel Matewere, after everyone had died.

Nyasa Times understands that Abdul Mahomed of Royal Motors and his friends forged signatures of General Graciano Matewere and Colonel Matewere and transferred the shares to themselves thereby stealing a 150-hectare piece of land under Lunzu Estate Limited Michiru 14.

The land under dispute is near the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) at Kameza Roundabout in Blantyre.

Both the Matewere family and Mahomed confirmed about the legal suit in an interview with Nyasa Times on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, respectively.

One of the family members alleged that Mahomed was not aware that one of the directors is still alive when he forged the documents.

"The letter of administration by the High Court judge was issued that the Matewere family are the sole administrators of the estate. However, there is a fake documentation of resignation of directors of the Matewere family, which the Colonel and other directors are not aware of," said a family member who sought anonymity.

He added, "There is no company resolution to sell or to transfer shares to Abdul Mohamed and his Asian friends at the Registrar of Companies. Every document is sanitised by a law firm, Ngombe Company, who died long time ago. The documents seem to have been done in 2003, but backdated to 1995."

The family member further stated that the forged signatures resemble and are ":very uncommon and different from their real signatures".

It is believed that all these fake transactions were done when Colonel Matewere was in the Democratic Republic of Congo on peacekeeping mission from 2002 to 2006.

"These Malawians of the Asian origin must have been aware that he is away and General Matewere had just passed away that time. So, they took advantage to forge his signature to facilitate the transfer of ownership. The lands registrar was not aware of the change of ownership of the company and the land," he claimed.

Mahomed refused to comment, saying his lawyer was better placed to talk to the media.

"The matter is in court. So, I would prefer you talk to my lawyer. I will text you his phone number soon," he said.

However, Mahomed did not send the contact number of his lawyer. He also did not pick subsequent calls.

The Matewere family has since hired private practice law firm, Salimu and Associates, to represent it in the case.

The court is yet to set the date to start hearing the case.

The fight over the ownership of Lunzu Estate Limited is coming hot on the heels of another battle over the ownership of Livimbo Schools in Lilongwe.

Chancellor College-based political and social commentator, Blessings Chinsinga, observed in one of his papers recently that within the Malawi's land policy context; there are a range of malpractices that tend to disadvantage the poor natives.

Chinsinga cited bureaucratic petty corruption that occurs in the allocation of publicly owned land as one of the challenges poor Malawians face to acquire land.

"For example, the Lilongwe Land Allocation Committee is supposed to allocate land within the city, but in practice the committee is bypassed and its efficiency suppressed by the actions of ministers, principal secretaries, business magnates and other influential persons in society who pressurise government officials to favour particular applications.

"Having purchased Makande Tea Estate in 2001 from one the European settler farmers, the government decided to donate it Thyolo District Council for distribution to the people in the district. The beneficiaries were supposed to be land-poor and landless households with property value of less than MK20 000, but it later turned out that many richer persons acquired land on the estates," he says while quoting Holden et al., 2006.

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