REVEALED | Details surrounding the court appearance postponement of Lesotho’s Prime Minister

2020-02-22 22:07

Lesotho police said they would wait for the prime minister's return from "sick leave" to resume a court case in which he is suspected of murdering his estranged wife.

Thomas Thabane, 80, is accused of having acted in "common purpose" in the June 2017 killing of 58-year-old Lipolelo Thabane, whom he was divorcing.

He had been due in court for a preliminary appearance on Friday, where he was expected to be formally charged.

But the prime minister travelled instead to neighbouring South Africa for health reasons, prompting police to warn they could issue an arrest warrant.

Deputy Police Commissioner Palesa Mokete, however, said Thabane's lawyers had sent him a "sick leave note" claiming the premier would be "unfit" until February 27.

"While we admit that is quite coincidental, we shall have our own means to ascertain this state of affairs," Mokete told AFP on Saturday, adding that he had "no reason to doubt" the document.

READ: Lesotho murder intrigue 'traumatises' already volatile kingdom

He said no arrest warrant has been issued as yet and that "new arrangements" would be made for Thabane once he was "fit for an appearance".

About Lipolelo's murder

Lipolelo Thabane's murder sent shock waves through Lesotho - a tiny landlocked nation of 2.2 million that has a long history of political turmoil.

She was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru just two days before her husband took office.

Events that transpired before where of a neighbour who had said an unidentified men banged on Lipolelo’s door until he (the neighbour) called for help.

"They fled when we came out. She reported that incident to the police. We are shocked that she has now been killed," the alluded to the police.

ALSO: Lesotho PM Thabane's wife, 58, was shot dead in a village outside Maseru

The incident reportedly came two days before Thabane was due to be sworn in as the mountain kingdom's prime minister for the second time in 28 months.

In 2017, it was reported that the motive of Lipolelo's shooting was not clear as details of the incident were sketchy.

Prime Minister's accusations

The accusations against the prime minister came after communications records from the scene of the murder included Thabane's mobile phone number.

His current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, whom he married two months after Lipolelo's death, is considered a co-conspirator and has already been charged with murder.

MUST READLesotho court issues arrest warrant for PM's wife over murder of his previous wife

The premier has faced pressure to resign by senior party officials, who accused him of hampering investigations into the killing.

He announced earlier this week that he would step down on July 31.

However, AFP reported that he may step down earlier than expected as the officials of his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party mention that parliament would be meeting next week to work on the "finishing touches".

In his inaugural speech, Thabane had described his wife's murder as a "senseless killing". He and Maesaiah - who at the time had the status of a "customary wife" - both attended Lipolelo's funeral.

Maesaiah Thabane
Maesaiah Thabane, wife of Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane poses for a photograph at the State House in Maseru, Lesotho, February 18, 2020. (Sumaya Hisham)

Thabane's inauguration came a day after his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead by unknown gunmen near her house in Ha Masana, 20km from Maseru, a News24 correspondent reported in 2017. 

Alleged evidence that Thabane was involved in his wife's murder surfaced from court documents filed by police commissioner Holomo Molibeli - who was challenging Thabane's attempts to sack him.

The explosive affidavit that probe the Prime Minister's involvement

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Police Chief submitted an explosive affidavit that contains court documents involving the matter. 

These documents, as filed by the police commissioner Holomo Molibeli contained a letter from him to the prime minister alluding to the communication records from the day of Lipolelo's murder picked up Thabane's mobile phone number.

This revealed a telephonic communication at the scene of the crime which he believed belongs to Thabane. 

In this explosive affidavit, Molibeli also claimed Thabane sought to suspend him because investigations show the prime minister was "implicated" in his wife's murder.

The Prime Minister's court appearance over has been postponed. 

Read more on:    thomas thabane  |  lesotho
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