Lesotho: PM Thabane, on medical checkup in South Africa, denies fleeing as murder charges loom

MASERU, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has denied reports that he has fled to South Africa after he failed to appear in court to face charges of murdering his estranged wife in 2017.

He has gone there for a medical check up instead, his office said.

His current wife Maesaiah Thabane has already been charged with the murder.

Thabane would be the first African leader to be charged with a domestic murder while in office, in a case that has shocked the tiny mountain kingdom.

His office says he respects the rule of law and that he plans to appear before the court when he returns from South Africa.

In January, Maesaiah went to South Africa, which entirely surrounds the landlocked nation, after police issued a warrant of arrest against her.

She was picked from the border with South Africa on Feb 4 after an arrangement between her lawyers and police, police spokesman Mpiti Mopeli said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete told reporters he was not aware of Thabane’s whereabouts, but said that if he was out of the country receiving treatment then they would wait to resume the case when he returns.

We cannot at this stage say he is contemptuous [of the court], he added.

Thabane’s previous wife Lipolelo Thabane, 58, was shot dead in the capital, Maseru, two days before Thabane became prime minister in 2017.

Lipolelo was gunned down at close range on the side of a dirt road while returning to her home in a small village on the outskirts of the capital, Maseru.

She was involved in bitter divorce proceedings with Thabane when she was killed.

At the time, the prime minister was living with Maesaiah, 42, as if she were his wife.

But Lipolelo had already won a separate legal battle to be recognised as First Lady, rather than Maesaiah.

Maesaiah accompanied Thabane to his inauguration, following his estranged wife’s death.

Two months later she and Thabane got married in a Catholic ceremony held at a packed stadium in Maseru.

Maesaiah was charged with Lipolelo’s murder on Feb 5, and is out on bail of about $67.

She has also been charged with the attempted murder of a family friend Thato Sibolla, who was with Lipolelo at the time of the shooting and is expected to be a key witness in the murder case.

Maesaiah has not yet been asked to enter a plea.

Source: NAM News Network