RETHABILE Mokete, the well-known famo musician and a key suspect in the 14 June 2017 murder of Lipolelo Thabane, is dead.
He died on Tuesday from suspected Covid 19 after a short illness at the Netcare Hospital in Bloemfontein.
Popularly known as Khosi Mosotho Chakela, Mr Mokete had become a fugitive from justice after he fled the country as the police sought him over the murder of Lipolelo, the ex-wife of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Mr Thabane is also a suspect in the murder.
Mr Mokete’s right-hand man, Nteei Tšehlana, confirmed his death in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday. He said Mr Mokete and his three associates had been admitted to hospital on 28 December 2020 after displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
“They were all taken to hospital and upon arrival Khosi Chakela’s blood pressure was found to be very high as he had hypertension.
“He died on 5 January 2021. Two of his associates have since been discharged and one remains in hospital but in a stable condition.
“We are still waiting for his post mortem results so that we can know for sure whether he died of Covid-19 or hypertension,” Mr Tšehlana said.
He said Mr Mokete and others could have contracted the virus during the numerous trips they had been undertaking between Bloemfontein and Gauteng to campaign for Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC) ahead of the 2022 general elections.
Mr Mokete was a founder member of the Thabane-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) in 2006.
He dumped the party for the DC after falling out with Mr Thabane and other senior ABC officials who he accused of leaving him out in the cold and failing to handsomely reward him for the “sacrifices” he had made for the ABC.
In demanding his ‘pound of flesh’, Mr Mokete said his Terene gang of famo followers ought to have been rewarded for having helped the ABC to win the 3 June 2017 elections.
He had earlier threatened to dish out dirty secrets on former First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane and former Police and Public Security Minister ’Mampho Mokhele.
His bitterness with the ABC led him to join the DC last year and he had pledged to work hard to ensure it won next year’s elections.
Mr Mokete rose to fame with his debut 1999 album Manka le Phallang.
In 2006, he scooped the South African Traditional Music Award (SATMA) for the best musician in the Famo music category and from that point on he released hit after hit including songs such as Ho etsa hampe le hantle ho tšoana feela and Sutu ea Chakela.
Despite being an award-winning famo musician, his fame as a singer had been overshadowed by his involvement in the deadly turf wars with rival famo gangs.
Last year he became a wanted man after being named as one of the key suspects in the June 2017 murder of Mr Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo.
He was named alongside fellow famo musicians Seabata Sello, Macheli Koeshe, Molefi Matima and Sarele Sello. Sarele has since turned into a state witness.
According to court papers filed in the High Court last year by Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Paseka Mokete, Mr Mokete is one of the hitmen who were allegedly hired by Mr Thabane and his current wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, to kill Lipolelo.
The Thabane couple allegedly promised to pay Lipolelo’s killers a staggering M3 million to get the job done, DCP Mokete claimed in his court papers.
They had allegedly only paid the killers M400 000 when the allegations against them blew up earlier in 2020.
Ms Thabane has already been charged with the Lipolelo murder and the attempted murder of Lipolelo’s friend, Thato Sibolla.
Ms Thabane is out on bail and it is not clear when, if at all the trial will proceed.
Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli had said they would also arrest and charge Mr Thabane with Lipolelo’s murder but he remains free to this day amid claims by some ABC and government sources that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane’s apparent inertia on the matter is a result of political pressure to spare the former premier in light of threats by his supporters to collapse the Moeketsi Majoro led coalition if Mr Thabane is charged. Mr Thabane was originally taken to court in February 2020 but he immediately challenged the decision to charge him, saying he could not be charged criminally as long as he remained sitting premier. The matter was referred to the Constitutional Court. That argument no longer holds water as he is no longer prime minister after his May 2020 ouster. But the DPP has not taken any action against him ever since amid the political pressure suggestions.