The High Court this week indefinitely postponed a case in which Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is seeking to divorce his wife, Lipolelo Alice Thabane.
According to papers before the court, Dr Thabane was married to Lipolelo (née Makhooane) “by civil rites and in community of property in 1987,” and the marriage “still subsists”, although the couple has been living apart since 2009.
Dr Thabane indicates in the court documents that there were no children born of the marriage “but the parties have legally adopted one minor child (name withheld).”
According to the court documents, Dr Thabane is seeking to end the marriage because Ms Lipolelo “acted with a fixed and malicious intention to terminate the said marriage” by committing the following “matrimonial wrongs: Using vulgar and profane language towards his children from a previous marriage; Carousing until the late hours of the night; In 2010 she started living away from the matrimonial home without any prior arrangement; Sometime in 2010, she arrived at the matrimonial home in Makhoakhoeng and following an altercation with him, smashed windows and doors of the house; Since that fateful day, has not been to the matrimonial home, thus denying him consortium and all other related marital rights and privileges; stopped showing any love and affections towards him.
Dr Thabane further submitted, through his legal representative, Advocate Tumisang Mosotho, that under the said circumstances, “and solely due to matrimonial misconduct” on the part of Ms Lipolelo, the couple has not been living together as husband and wife for an unreasonably long period of time and “there is no harmony in their marriage”.
According to the court papers, Dr Thabane is demanding the following from Ms Lipolelo:
- Restitution of conjugal rights, failing which a decree of divorce on the grounds of malicious desertion.
- Custody of the minor child, subject to Ms Lipolelo’s reasonable access.
- Maintenance of the minor child to be his sole responsibility, with Ms Lipolelo still having a duty and right to contribute towards the maintenance according to her own means and abilities.
- Division of the joint estate.
However, in her defence, Ms Lipolelo dismisses Dr Thabane’s claims and gives her own version of events.
Through her lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, Ms Lipolelo notes in her court papers: “The defendant, by agreement of the parties, lives in the Republic of South Africa and only comes to Lesotho on weekends and does not have night escapades. She comes to Lesotho to attend to family business.
“The true scenario was as follows: Sometime in 2010, the defendant (Ms Lipolelo) reported to the plaintiff (Dr Thabane) that a relative of theirs (one Thaabe) had sexually harassed her and the plaintiff did not care, and instead, locked her outside the matrimonial home
“The defendant retaliated by breaking down the windows, and the plaintiff then instructed his sons (from a previous marriage) to assault the defendant. The assault continued without the plaintiff intervening.”
Criminal charges were laid against Ms Lipolelo’s assailants, the court papers indicate, while Dr Thabane pressed charges of malicious damage to property.
“This is the main reason why the defendant is afraid to go back to the matrimonial home,” Advocate Mda submitted.
Moreover, the lawyer added, it was Dr Thabane who recently told Ms Lipolelo that he no longer loved her.
“Indeed, the defendant is desirous and eager to return to the matrimonial home,” Advocate Mda submitted, adding Ms Lipolelo was also eager to “restore conjugal rights at any time and is of the view that the marriage can still be saved”.
Dr Thabane, Ms Lipolelo further submitted in her court papers through Advocate Mda, had, throughout the course of the marriage, allegedly committed adultery with numerous paramours.
“The defendant condoned the said adulteries,” Advocate Mda submitted, adding: “Since 2007 up to date, the plaintiff (Dr Thabane) and one Liabiloe Ramoholi committed adultery at various places, namely Ha Abia in the Maseru urban area, Khubetsoana in the district of Berea and currently at Moshoeshoe II in the Maseru urban area. The defendant (Ms Lipolelo) has not condoned the said adultery.”
But in his counter-response, Dr Thabane, through his lawyer Advocate Mosotho, also explained in court papers, why he has not been living with Ms Lipolelo.
“The defendant has permanently been living in Lesotho since around 2009 after the parties’ matrimonial home in Johannesburg, South Africa was auctioned for failure by the defendant to pay mortgage bond. The home was auctioned despite the plaintiff sending the defendant, at the end of each month, money as contribution for her own maintenance and payment of the mortgage bond.”
Advocate Mosotho further submitted that even when the said matrimonial home was put on auction, Ms Lipolelo never informed and /or advised Dr Thabane about it.
“Upon her return to Lesotho, the defendant stayed at her friend’s house and did not join the plaintiff at the parties’ matrimonial home in Makhoakhoeng. This, she did without any prior consultation and/or agreement with the plaintiff,” Advocate Mosotho submitted.
Advocate Mosotho added as regards the alleged assault by Dr Thabane’s sons, the correct position was that Ms Lipolelo had attended a wedding of a relative in Makhoakhoeng “and late at night, she and her brother went to the parties’ matrimonial home. When the plaintiff refused to let them inside the house, they then broke the windows into plaintiff’s bedroom and threw stones at him.”
Advocate Mosotho added neighbours informed Dr Thabane’s sons of the situation and they, in turn, rushed to their father’s rescue.
“The defendant is not afraid to return to the matrimonial home as she has never been to the matrimonial home since her return from South Africa. The parties have, over the years, drifted apart and there is no longer love shared between them,” Advocate Mosotho noted.
Dr Thabane, the lawyer added, denied “being engaged in adulterous relationships as alleged or at all and puts the defendant to strictest proof thereof. The plaintiff and the said Liabiloe Ramoholi have been close friends over the years and are members of the same political party. The plaintiff denies ever committing adultery with the said Liabiloe Ramoholi.
“Alternatively, and assuming but without conceding that the allegations in this regard were true, that would be proof that there is no longer marital bonds shared by the parties, in particular when the defendant alleges not to have condoned the alleged adulterous acts by the plaintiff.”
The court, however, could not proceed with hearing of the matter on Monday after Dr Thabane could not show up hence it was postponed indefinitely.
Advocate Mda told the Lesotho Times yesterday that counsel from the two opposing camps, would meet again on Monday next week to re-set the date of the hearing.