Divorce haunts Thabane
…as estranged wife threatens to sue Prime Minister for ignoring court order over child maintenance
A lawyer representing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife, Lipolelo Alice Thabane, has requested Attorney General Tšokolo Makhethe to urgently “facilitate the appointment of his client as First Lady” as per last month’s High Court judgment.
The High Court, on 13 January, ruled Lipolelo is the country’s official First Lady “and should be immediately afforded all the benefits she is entitled to, including a chauffeur-driven government vehicle and bodyguard”.
The judgment, which came as a major blow to Dr Thabane’s current wife ’MaIsiah Thabane, nѐe Liabiloe Ramoholi, effectively recognised Lipolelo as the prime minister’s rightful spouse pending the finalisation of a divorce case the premier instituted against his “ex-wife”.
Delivered by Justice Molefi Makara, the judgment further banned ’MaIsiah from “performing any functions and exercising any rights vested in the applicant (Lipolelo) as the First Spouse in terms of Act 10 of 2011.”
Justice Makara also ordered that Dr Thabane and Public Service Minister Motloheloa Phooko should stop making any payments to ’MaIsiah from government’s coffers.
Dr Thabane, Dr Phooko, Macedalia Ferreira (’MaIsiah’s matrimonial names from her previous marriage), Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and Advocate Makhethe (KC) were cited as First to Fifth respondents, respectively.
“The First, Second, Fourth and Fifth respondents are directed to cause the Applicant to be given a chauffeur-driven government vehicle, a bodyguard and other benefits she is entitled to in terms of Act No 10 of 2011 forthwith,” Justice Makara noted.
Dr Thabane was also directed by the court to pay school fees “forthwith” for the minor child (names withheld) “the daughter of the Applicant and First Respondent.”
But Lipolelo’s lawyer, King’s Counsel (KC) Zwelakhe Mda, in his letter dated 3 February 2014 and also copied to Mr Mphaka, notified Advocate Makhethe (KC) and the Government Secretary that the court order had not been complied with.
Advocate Mda (KC) said: “I am acting on instructions from the attorneys for Lipolelo Thabane to draw your attention to the following facts: The court order in the above matter was duly served upon the Respondents on the 15 and 16 ultimo. I attach the copy thereof for ease of reference.
“Regrettably the First, Second, Fourth and Fifth respondents have not complied with the court order up to date. Client is anxious that there be compliance with the said order of court. While the client is loath to bring contempt proceedings against the parties concerned, she instructs us that she will have no alternative but to do so in order to enforce her rights and the rights of the minor child. Please regularise the position or cause same to be regularised as a matter of agency.”
Mr Mphaka yesterday confirmed receiving the letter, telling the Lesotho Times: “Mr Mda is simply making us aware of a court order whose contents you already know. And as the respondents, we appreciate his concern because it is based on court instructions. We don’t want to be seen as though we are defying court orders. We are government officials and should be exemplary. So what I am telling you is that we are definitely going to comply with the court order if we do not lodge an appeal.”
Asked what he meant by the last statement, Mr Mphaka said: “Soon the respondents will finalise whether to challenge the court order before the Court of Appeal or comply”.
On his part, Advocate Mda (KC) said: “I can confirm that the PM has not complied with the court order relating to the payment of school fees for the minor child. Client is considering instituting contempt proceedings against the PM, who ought to lead by example in upholding the rule of law. She will have no option but to go back to court in the interest of the minor child. I have appealed to the PM’s attorneys to prevail over him to uphold the rule of law in so far as it relates to the protection of the minor child’s interests.”