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Blantyre City Council caught in land mess

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The Blantyre City Council (BCC) is caught up in a controversial land deal after it purportedly offered to sell the same piece of land to two developers, The Daily Times can reveal.
The piece of land situated at Kriskwick, plot number Blantyre Central 131D, which is being developed by Corporate Trading Limited, was apparently offered to Mike Mlombwa of Countrywide Car Hire in early 2016.
The issue has since attracted legal intervention, with lawyers representing Corporate Trading Limited, Ritz Attorneys-at-Law, penning Mlombwa to stop visiting the plot as well as to withdraw threats allegedly made to Corporate Trading Limited’s Karamat Chaudhry.
Several documents, which The Daily Times has seen, including receipts, an offer letter, and copies of cheque deposit slips, show that Mlombwa was offered the piece of land and was required to pay a premium of K23 million.
A receipt from BCC, dated May 20 2016, shows that Mlombwa had made a down payment of K12.5 million to the council as developmental fee for the plot.
In September 2016, four months after the piece of land was offered, Mlombwa said he started getting worried that the council was taking too long to prepare legal documents to back his ownership of the plot.
“While I was waiting, I was called by a senior officer from the legal department [of Blantyre City Council] who told me that time for making the final payment had elapsed. My concern was that I had paid a deposit of K12.5 million but the officials were hesitant to show me the exact boundaries of the plot,” Mlombwa said.
In September 2017, Mlombwa said he was surprised to see some officials from Corporate Trading Limited at the site and some labourers erecting an iron-sheet fence.
His attempt to ask about what was going on is what attracted a letter from lawyers representing Corporate Trading Limited.
Meanwhile, Mlombwa has claimed that, despite offering the land to the Corporate Trading Limited, the council is yet to refund his K12.5 million.
Mlombwa has since filed a complaint to the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) and said his legal team was making arrangements to file a lawsuit against BCC.
“I met the Chief Executive Officer [of Blantyre City Council] at the ground breaking ceremony of the Sogecoa Park. He told me not to worry, saying there is another piece of land that I will be given,” Mlombwa said.
Commenting on the issue, BCC Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda, said Mlombwa was offered a different plot not the one he is claiming to own.
“Mlombwa was offered plot number Blantyre East 57F at Kristwick. He was not offered the other plot you are talking about,” Kasunda said.
But the offer letter for plot number Blantyre East 57F does not have the council’s emblem and is not signed.
The name of the plot under dispute, Blantyre Central 131D, also appears on a cheque payment voucher made by Country Wide Car Hire [Mlombwa’s company] to the City Council, dated May 19 2016.
On the differences in the names of the plot on the offer letter and the land he paid for, Mlombwa accused the council of using tricks to deceive people.

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