Criminals invade estate agency business

The high levels of criminal syndicates at the ministry of lands where officers accept bribes from those seeking services has become a source of worry, says Zambia Institute of Estate Agency(ZIEA) president Saul Kiwempindi.

Mr Kiwempindi said that there was need to regulate the estate agents business in the country hence the reason why the agency was working with the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA), the police and other relevant authorities charged with the duty to implement and enforce the Estate Agent Act.

Dr Kiwempindi said this in Lusaka at a workshop for 50 investigators and prosecutors in the Estate business sector in an effort to curb criminal activities in the real estate business.

The prosecutors and the investigators met yesterday in Lusaka where they were familiarising themselves with the  Estate Agents Act no. 21 of 2000.

Dr Kiwempindi bemoaned the little help that victims of agency fraud were given, stating that this was due to the complexities of property transactions and the lack of enforcement of the Estate Agents Act.

He said that fake agents had continued to place advertisements in the media and stated that ZIEA had engaged the media to allow only verified agents but that this was not feasible because the media was just doing business.

Dr Kiwempindi has appealed to the public to take caution before making any payments for land or property and that they should first verify the authenticity of documents with the Ministry of Lands.

He said the cartels were rife such that unsuspecting customers would even be taken to the location of a plot or a house to view the property and made to sign some forged documents, causing people to losing colossal sums of money in the process.

“The expected help in circumstances of irregular transactions is usually little from relevant authorities due to the complexities of property transactions and the lack of enforcement of the Estate Agent Act and there is need to regulate the estate agents business in Zambia,’’ Dr Kiwempindi said.Officiating at the meeting, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja said there was need for the police to collaborate with ZIEA to eradicate illegal estate agents in the business.

He said members of the public should be protected from losing colossal sums of money to fake agents.

Mr Kanganja said this in a speech read for him by police senior assistant commissioner Fwambo Siame at a workshop organised by ZIEA and the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA). He said the existence of the Act was important in the protection of the public from fraudsters and cartels involved in the estate criminal activities.

Mr Kanganja expressed confidence that the workshop would equip as well as give insight into the intrinsic complexities of the estate agency industry and implement the estate agency Act.

“You all know that the public is suffering on a daily basis in terms of losses arising from activities of individuals and firms purporting to be estate agents.

‘‘As investigators and prosecutors, the time has come to collaborate with the Zambia Institute of Estate Agency to eradicate illegal estate agents in our communities,” he said.

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