Lesotho’s first lady, Maesaiah Thabane denies murder charge

Lesotho prime minister Thomas Thabane and his wife Maesaiah Thabane with Zambian President Edgar Lungu in Maseru in 2017.
Lesotho prime minister Thomas Thabane and his wife Maesaiah Thabane with Zambian President Edgar Lungu in Maseru in 2017.

Lesotho’s first lady, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, has denied that she murdered Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s former wife.

Maesaiah is on trial for the murder of Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo Thabane, in June 2017.

She is also charged with the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla, who was in the same car with Lipolelo Thabane when she was ambushed near her home.

The police allege that she [Maesaiah] murdered Lipolelo Thabane so she could marry the prime minister and become the first lady. But Maesaiah (42) is strenuously insisting on her innocence.

She told the High Court in her bail application that “she was not at the scene of the crime when it happened”.

Maesaiah was charged on February 5, about three weeks after she fled the country into South Africa when the police called her for questioning.

She was however controversially granted R1000 bail a few hours later after claiming that she had a doctor’s appointment the next day.

On Tuesday this week she appeared in the magistrate’s court for a routine remand and the case was postponed to March 17.

Her freedom might however be short-lived. The Court of Appeal will soon hear an urgent appeal by four people who want her bail cancelled. One of them is the Prime Minister Thabane’s grandchild and namesake, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane (Thabane Jnr), who argues that the bail was illegally granted.

Thabane Jnr, raised by Lipolelo Thabane, says Maesaiah should be thrown back in remand prison because she is a “flight risk and a danger to the society”.

He describes her as “an extremely dangerous person with an evident mercurial character and with the propensity to engage assassins and gangsters of the Famo music in order to meets her ends”.

The other applicants are Sibolla, the victim, and Lipolelo Thabane’s nephews living in South Africa.

Sibolla has since gone into hiding in South Africa, after claiming that her life is in danger since Maesaiah got bail.

The police also say Mrs Thabane “is a friend of very dangerous Famo music gangs who are too fond of killing any person irrespective of reasons.”

They say they are now hunting for five gang members who allegedly carried out the hit at Maesaiah’s behest. They also suspect that the five are linked to a notorious Lesotho gang operating from South Africa.

Meanwhile, a Lesotho newspaper this week reported that there is a secret move to grant Maesaiah amnesty in a deal that involves her husband relinquishing power to his deputy.

The deal, the newspaper claims, could also include a similar amnesty for a former army commander and more than a dozen of soldiers on trial for several murders and other crimes between 2014 and 2015.

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