The massive theft of public resources at Capital Hill has prompted the tightening of controls at the Road Traffic Directorate (RTD), especially in the processing of change of vehicle ownership transactions.
RTD and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) confirmed to The Nation in separate interviews yesterday that the change in vehicle ownership was now undergoing rigorous checks to ensure no person involved in the looting disposes of vehicles to avoid investigations.
The stringent measures employed at RTD are part of the government’s action plan to seize property and freeze bank accounts belonging to suspects involved in the looting.
RTD director James Chirwa said the directorate was still issuing certificates of change of ownership, but they were cross-checking with ACB and police
Said Chirwa: “The police, ACB and other institutions are involved in the process. We would like to check that the intention was not to hide property or run away from investigations currently taking place.”
ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala confirmed ACB’s involvement, saying once the bureau ascertains that the property was not connected to the investigation, it was issuing a letter clearing for the change of ownership , but if connected, no clearance was taking place.
“The Bureau would like to prevent disposal of property that may have been acquired using public funds in the ongoing investigations at Capital Hill. This is done to ensure that property connected to the investigations is not disposed of before the investigations are concluded,” Ndala said.
While not confirming the Malawi Police Service’s (MPS) involvement, National Police deputy spokesperson Kelvin Maigwa said it was the police’s mandate to conduct investigations where it is believed beyond reasonable doubt that something fishy happened.
One motorist who has previously applied for change of vehicle ownership confirmed that the checks this time are rigorous, saying the process was taking more than five days when it was previously conducted within minutes.
“In the past, we were just required to bring a blue book, a letter from the first owner, a letter from the police and a photocopy of a driving licence and it would be processed within a day. But now, at least three examiners are handling the process and its taking at least seven days before it is approved,” he said.