Former first lady granted bail in Lesotho murder case
Africa editor, BBC World Service
Lesotho's former first lady - who has been charged with murdering her husband’s estranged wife - has been granted bail despite police objections that she might use it to escape.
The deputy police commissioner, Paseka Moketem, said Maesaiah Thabane had fled before and was likely to do so again.
He described her as very dangerous and said she had the resources to interfere with witnesses.
Mrs Thabane was arrested earlier this month after the appeal court revoked her bail. When police tried to question her earlier this year, she left for South Africa.
She denies ordering the killing of Lipolelo Thabane who was shot dead in the capital, Maseru, three years ago.
Her husband, the former prime minister, Thomas Thabane, also denies involvement.
Lesotho ex-PM 'paid hit-men to kill former wife'
BBC News, Johannesburg
In a damning court affidavit, the police in Lesotho say they have evidence that former Prime Minister
Thomas Thabane and his current wife Maesaiah Thabane paid assassins to kill Mr Thabane’s estranged
wife in 2017.
Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead on the
eve of Mr Thabane’s swearing in as prime minister.
The police statement is one of the documents filed in the Maseru High Court which the police will be using to
oppose Mrs Thabane’s bail application.
Mrs Thabane, who
has been charged with murder, has been in custody since last week. Her
lawyers will argue that she should be granted bail to care for her unwell
She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr Thabane – who
has denied any involvement in the murder - was forced to step down last month
amid the murder allegations.
He is yet to be charged, but in the latest
papers police allege that he identified the home of his estranged wife to the
The police also
say the former prime minister and his wife agreed to pay the alleged killers a
total of $180,000 (£142,000) – which was to be paid in instalments. A down-payment of $24,000
had already been paid, according to the affidavit. One of the hit-men will be testifying
as key witness for the state.
According to the
police, Mr and Mrs Thabane wanted his former wife, Lipolelo, dead, so that his
current wife could assume the role of first lady.
Shortly before her death, Lipolelo Thabane won a court battle confirming that she was the
rightful first lady – despite being in the middle of divorce proceedings - and
deserved all the perks that came with the position.
The current finance minister,
Moeketsi Majoro, looks set to be Lesotho's next prime minister.
He has been appointed as
the would-be leader of the new governing coalition by both the All Basotho Congress and its
ally, the Democratic Congress.
The king of Lesotho is being formally notified and
it is expected that Mr Majoro will be sworn in at the royal palace in the
capital, Maseru, on Wednesday.
Parliament will then reconvene
on Friday, when the new government is expected to be inaugurated.
Lesotho is last African nation to record Covid-19
Lesotho has confirmed its first case of coronavirus - becoming the
last country in Africa to record the virus.
The mountain kingdom is completely surrounded by South Africa, which
has 11,350 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.
The single case resulted from tests done on 81 travellers from
South Africa and Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said in a statement.
For weeks there have been questions about how Lesotho had managed
to stave off the disease in spite of the frequent movement of people between
the two neighbours.
Hundreds of thousands of Basotho work in South Africa.
The border closed when both countries went into lockdown at the end of March - with only essential workers
allowed to move back and forth.
A few weeks ago, Lesotho’s Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, in an
interview with South Africa's EyeWitness News, pleaded with those wanting to be repatriated to remain in South Africa - fearing that some might come back with the virus.
This would place an enormous burden on the country’s already
fragile health system, he said.
Lesotho does not have the necessary resources to test for
Covid-19, so samples are being sent to South Africa’s National Institute for
Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Some have said the this may lead to a delay not only in detecting
cases and containing the spread of the virus but also in administering treatment.
"To date we have sent 597 specimens for testing at NICD, 295 are
negative and 301 are still pending,” Lesotho's health ministry said.
End of the road for Lesotho's embattled PM
BBC News, Johannesburg
Lesotho's coalition government has collapsed, leaving Prime Minister Thomas Thabane without enough seats to continue governing, the parliament speaker has announced, adding that Mr Thabane had to step down by 22 May.
The 80-year-old leader has been under pressure to leave office
for months after he and his current wife were accused of orchestrating
the murder of his estranged wife, Dipolelo Thabane.
Dipolelo was shot several
times outside her home in 2017, on the eve Mr Thabane’s inauguration.
Mr Thabane and his current wife Maesaiah have both denied any wrongdoing.
Many in Lesotho
believe that Mr Thabane has spent the last few months trying to lobby those in
power for immunity from prosecution.
But it doesn’t seem like that will be
A spokesperson for Mr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), Montoeli Masoetsa, has told the BBC that Mr Thabane will not be receiving any
protection from the law.
“Our stance is that like all citizens, he must stand
trial and clear his name there,” he said.
Mr Masoetsa said the prime minister and all his ministers were expected to leave their posts in the coming
days - and a new prime minister would be sworn in as soon as possible.
“There is officially
no government in Lesotho and that needs to be addressed so as to ensure
stability. We are working on making sure that happens,” he said.
murder case is still before the courts.