Some diasporans may have lost huge sums of money in what may be a land scam after they were duped into buying plots at Roslin Farm, Kwekwe.
Some of the home seekers bought the pieces of land dating back to 2015 from Benjamin Author Mahlathini but to date, they have not been given the title deeds.
Narrating the ordeal to CITE, one of the affected buyers said they bought the land after an advertisement was made in a local newspaper.
“I responded to an advert advertising a plot from local papers in Zimbabwe in 2015. The seller had more than 1000 hectares and divided it into about 100 plots of 10ha. What attracted me was that he allowed a deposit. The agreement was that after finishing to pay you to get title deeds, however after buying the plot in 2015 we have not yet received title deeds, some people have even settled there,” said a source.
“1 acre was going for US$1000 and I bought 25acres for US$25 000. I paid US$5 000 upfront; US$20 000 was to be paid in installments of US$500 every month. I was paying this amount using the money I was collecting from my tenant, I paid that money up until I finished my balance, what was remaining was to receive title deeds.”
The source said other people had paid cash once-off and started developing the plots, however, the problems began when they started asking for title deeds.
Mahlathini has not made any efforts to fulfill the obligations to meet the requirements for applying for title deeds such as roads, “he just cut trees as road preparation and it’s impassable with cars during the rainy season.”
The source said they had to engage Mahlathini as buyers to map the way forward.
“Upon approaching him, he started saying we should provide receipts of purchase. Fortunately, I had some receipts but couldn’t find others since I was making my payments through rentals from the tenants, so, at times we would transfer straight to him. His story was now saying I paid the amount on the receipts that I provided,” said the source.
The source said Mahlathing is now repossessing some plots from other buyers.
“He didn’t want to even give us proof on his end to show that his books matched what we were showing him, he doesn’t want to provide any information from his end, some plots are now being repossessed,” said the source.
“This person hasn’t even cleared the roads, there is no progress, and everyone who bought the stands is affected.”
The source said in 2015, Mahlathini was using a different lawyer.
“In between, he changed to a different lawyer and now he is using a different lawyer altogether,” said the source.
In an attempt to verify the claims made by the sources, the reporter posed as a buyer and contacted Benjamin Author Mahlathini who said the plots were still available and going for US$50 000.
He told this reporter to pay US$5 000 and monthly repayments of US$1 000 until she finished.
Mahlathini said title deeds are availed upon one finishing payments.
“We are located in Kwekwe South, 20km away from the city centre. We are between Kwekwe and Gweru,” he said.
Hungry for money, Mahlathini, later on, sent the reporter a deal to pay a deposit of US$2 000.
“Buyani silime is the best investment’ come and we do farming which is the best investment. You can pay a US$2 000 deposit and US$1 000 per month,”he said.
He went on to send pictures of the plot, with attractive, irresistible vegetation.
Questioned about access to water, Mahlathini indicated that there was plenty of water even for irrigation.
“Yes, ZINWA water can be found from 25meters, for irrigation; water can be found from 40meters. This place is well developed, some have Highlands, Harare type of houses.”
When the reporter told Mahlathini that her husband was in South Africa he went on to divulge that most of his buyers were all high-ranking locals and overseas buyers. “I tell you; you will be happy to see this place. I left about 200 hectares for myself.”
Questioned whether the sale would be through the lawyers, Mahlathini said it would be between a lawyer who would transfer title deeds.
However, CITE found that Mahlathini once used a Kwekwe-based lawyer, James Magodora who recently got struck off the register for professional misconduct involving misappropriation of more than US$16 000 Trust funds for personal use.
The legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal chair Justice Felistas Chatukuta, in a judgment delivered last month, ordered that Magodora be removed from the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) register of lawyers, after finding that he had engaged in several counts of professional misconduct.
Meanwhile, CITE also got in touch with another buyer who got scammed by Mahlathini’s then-lawyer, James Magodora.
“I paid into his lawyer’s Trust account and the lawyer stole the money. I am waiting for the deed in lieu of compensation as the lawyer used the money to buy himself three plots from the same seller,” said the source.