The Deeds Registry is a statutory creature constituted by the Deeds Registry Act (Cap. 33:02 of the laws of Botswana. It is headed by the registrar of Deeds who is appointed in terms of the above Act. The same Act also spells out the mandate of the office and the duties of the Registrar.
The offices of the Deeds Registry and their locations
The Deeds Registry has two offices located in Gaborone and Francistown. The main office is in Gaborone and housed under the Attorney General’s chambers in the government enclave. The office occupies ground and first floors of the said building. In Francistown the office is housed under the Botswana Life Insurance building next to Bank of Botswana and the Fire station. It occupies the second floor of the said building. The Gaborone office services the southern part of Botswana south of Dibete as well as the Ghanzi and Kgalagadi districts, whereas the Francistown office services the northern part of Botswana north of Dibete.
Functions of the Deeds Registry
The Deeds Registry takes charge and preserves records registered in the Deeds Registry. Its main function is to register title to surveyed or demarcated pieces of land, owned by the state, individuals and other entities capable of owning land or real rights in land. The division therefore plays a central role in the land registration system of the country and is thus the main source of information regarding land ownership and other real rights attaching to it.
In addition to registration of land ownership, the division is charged with registration of and preservation of other various legal documents. These include among others, the following:
- Registration and cancellations of mortgage bonds, releases of any property hypothecated thereby.
-Registration of leases (including tribal Leases), sub-leases and cessions of rights in such leases.
-Registration of ante-nuptial contracts as well as those signed under the Married Persons Property
Act, deeds of donations and such other Notarial documents as may be prescribed by the
Deeds Registry Act.
-Registration of General Plans of surveyed and demarcated land.
-Registration of Certificates of Rights to Minerals and such Notarial contracts relating to prospecting
-Registration of Powers of Attorney whereby agents named therein are authorized to act generally
or specifically for their principals.
Currently most of the documents mentioned above are prepared by specialized professionals namely, Conveyancers and Notary Publics as the Deeds Registry Act requires. The Act further provides for manner of preparations of these documents. Besides their need to comply with the Deeds Registry Act, the documents should also comply with the provisions of other relevant pieces of legislation inter alia, Tribal Land Act, State Land Act, Land Survey Act, Town and Country Planning Act, Land Control Act, Immovable Property Act, Transfer Duty Act, Married Persons Property Act, Administration of Estates Act and several others. This shows that these documents are not simple but require the necessary expertise and knowledge in preparing them. The Registrar is also under an obligation under the Deeds Registry Act to adhere to the provisions of other pieces of legislation when registering the documents lodged with him for registration.
Besides those documents that are prepared by attorneys, there are those that are prepared by the relevant offices such as Tribal leases which are prepared by the respective Land Boards and Instruments for Married Persons which are prepared by respective District Commissioners. These documents should also conform to the provisions of relevant pieces of legislation to ensure their registrability.
Operations of the Deeds Registry
Operations of the Deeds Registry Act are mainly guided by the statute which provides for the procedure of registration of documents, which is the core business of the Deeds Registry. The first step is for the documents to be lodged by either the owner or an attorney as the Act requires. After lodgment the documents are examined and if they have passed examination they are registered, signed and sealed. The purpose of examining the documents is to ensure their compliance with the law and to determine their registrability. If documents fail during examination they are returned to the owner or attorney for corrections and re-lodged. Each of the steps discussed above entails a detailed process and have to be done accordingly in the manner prescribed by the Act. The whole process of registration of documents takes a maximum period of five days. The documents are delayed when they are sent back for corrections.
Despite what is provided above there are exceptions in relation to Tribal leases lodged by owners in that these documents are upon lodgment by the owner examined and registered whilst he/she waits, provided that the documents have no mistakes. This arrangement is made possible by the fact that these documents are not lodged in large numbers and also that they are not so complicated and voluminous such that they would require a though research and examination as well as the necessary deductions and endorsements upon registration and execution.
Services provided by the Deeds Registry
As discussed, the main service provided by the Deeds Registry is that of registration of the legal documents accordingly prepared in terms of the law. It should be noted that it does not in any way prepare or assist in the preparation of the documents, as to do that would be contrary to the law which spells out its mandate. It also takes charge of and preserves all the records registered therein. The said records are open for public inspection at any time during working hours upon a formal request in writing to the Registrar of Deeds. The Registrar is also authorized in terms of the law to issue certified copies of documents registered by him/her in replacement of lost original copies at the instance of the registered holder or owner; to note caveats and interdicts against any property registered in his office as well as to do anything lawful under the Deeds Registry Act or any other law.