THE 48 GHOST HOUSES EXPLAINED-Access Full Details Below
I hope you can find some sense in what I scribbled.
The public has gone crazy over the 48 houses, now owned by ACC that until now can’t be traced to any specific individual. So much has equally been said about the media’s ‘failure’ to investigate and give proper facts.
So, we took time to try and make sense of this situation by investigating and finding evidence that will give answers to this shocking scenario.
However, allow us to state that what we have in here is based on the facts we have gathered but will in no way help identify the owner. If anything, it will help understand why there is NO owner.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The story here is that, from 2016, the ACC has been investigating a matter involving property suspected to be obtained from proceeds of crime. Since the launch of this investigation, the ACC have worked towards trying to find answers to who owns the said property.
It is indeed true that 48 apartments in Lusaka’s Chalala have been built and until now, no LEGAL owner can claim ownership to this property.
But how can 48 whole apartments have no owner?
Our investigation reveals that:
Before 2016, a huge piece of land was originally owned by a foreign national of Asian origin, whom we shall call XX. It is not known from whom XX purchased the land, but documents indicate that XX obtained the land legally.
By virtue of it being his land, XX decided to sale the land and so gave power of attorney to Law Firm XY who then acted as sales agent on behalf of XX to subdivide and sale the said piece of land. XY then subdivided the land and sold it to different owners who have gone ahead to develop various properties.
Among the properties developed are the 48 mysterious houses. Evidence we have obtained indicates that the land on which the houses have been built has not been titled but is registered in the name of NL who as of the last update was a low ranking civil servant at one of the government ministries.
While the land in question is purported to be owned by NL, there is no evidence at any point which leads to the proof that the land is indeed owned by NL. In fact, NL denies ever owning such land and bank records clearly show no trace of such a transaction.
Further, we have come to learn that the property built on the land is said to be owned by CC, a Lawyer from the Copperbelt who is believed to have hired an agent, BB, to develop properties and collect rentals on behalf of CC.
As in the case of NL, CC denies any relation to the said property and there is absolutely no evidence to prove his ownership of the property.
As it stands, the only contact person that could lead to the owner of the property is agent BB, who equally can’t prove who the owner is.
We managed to get a copy of the documents at the Ministry of Lands and what is clear is that first of all, no such property is owned by anyone according to the documents we saw.
This said property is regarded as mysterious because throughout the purchase of this property, no single person committed to signing any documentation validating their purchase, hence our findings at the ministry being futile.
By virtue of the ACC’s mandate to fight corruption, their immediate instinct is to protect the property in question to make sure no more benefit for the suspects during investigation.
The ACC we have learnt has two main issues they focus on during a corruption investigation;
1. They focus on the property involved (if any), which can be regarded as the civil part.
2. They focus on the individuals involved to ascertain what crime was committed to warrant either an investigation or arrest.
These investigations according to the ACC Act can either be carried out simultaneously, or at different times.
Because the owner of the property could not clearly be identified, the ACC decided to follow SI 58 of 2004 on regulations of Disposal of Recovered Property which states in part that:
“Any recovered property which comes into possession of the Anti-Corruption Commission shall, subject to the other provisions of these Regulations, vest in the State if such recovered property cannot be returned because –
(a) The rightful owner who is the subject of an investigation in respect of an offence alleged or suspected to have been committed under the Act, has left Zambia for the purpose, or apparent purpose, of evading the consequences of such investigation or of the trial of a prosecution brought against that person;
(b) The rightful owner or the person in possession of thereof absconds;
(c) The rightful owner cannot be traced or ascertained …
(d) Published in a national newspaper if the person concerned is unknown or if the address or whereabouts of that person are unknown
The regulation clearly allowed the ACC to take possession of the property after they published in a national newspaper for the owner to declare interest, failure to which meant the property belonged to the commission if not claimed three months from day of the publishing of the gazette.
After six months, no one claimed the property and it automatically was forfeited to the state. This forfeiture then marked the conclusion of the one part of the investigation, regarded as the civil part. By virtue of the possession of that property, it can never be reclaimed by any other person unless in the courts of law. Because this investigation was closed, the conclusion for this ONE part of the investigation was that the owner of the property was unknown and this gave reason for the ACC to possess this property.
However, there still is the other part of the investigation: WHO owns the properties? This investigation has moved on just as planned with the ACC actually having some names of people they interviewed in relation to the property but none so far can be pointed at as owner of the property. Because the investigation is ongoing and some vital documentation is still missing, the people in question can then not be regarded as owners of the property… true, the owner is not known.
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