’Maesaiah supporters mock police chief as her case is deferred

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Mohalenyane Phakela

FIRST Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane, who stands accused of the June 2017 murder of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s former wife, Lipolelo, will return to the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on 17 March 2020.

Magistrate Thamae Thamae deferred her case to that date after the prosecutor, Advocate Puseletso Sekoati, asked for the postponement to enable the state to finalise their plans to charge more suspects in connection with Lipolelo’s murder and the attempted murder of her friend, Thato Sibolla.

“The prosecution is still awaiting a directive from the Director of Public Prosecutions (Hlalefang Motinyane) to charge more people in connection with the murder (of Lipolelo) and attempted murder of (Ms Sibolla) therefore we ask that the matter be postponed to 17 March 2020,” Adv Sekoati said. Magistrate Thamae then ordered the postponement as requested.

’Maesaiah arrived in court at exactly 9am on Tuesday, resplendent in a striped black and white two-piece suit complete with a hat and a yellow scarf on the neck. She stood expressionless in the dock and left immediately after the proceedings.

As it was during her first appearance on 5 February 2020, the courtroom and its corridors were fully packed, mostly with her supporters dressed in the yellow, green and red regalia of her husband, Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.

Her exit was cheered by the horde of supporters who burst into song, ululation and chants proclaiming her innocence.

They also mocked Deputy Police Commissioner, Paseka Mokete, for investigating Dr Thabane and ’Maesaiah’s alleged role in the Lipolelo murder, claiming they had triumphed over the police boss.

Ha hona nyeoe mona (there’s no case here),” they chanted.

Le Mokete, re mo Hlotse, matla a hae a felile (We have triumphed over Mokete).”

’Maesaiah stands accused of the 14 June 2017 murder of Lipolelo and the attempted murder of Ms Sibolla, who was travelling in the same vehicle with Dr Thabane’s ex-wife, when she was gunned down in cold blood at Ha-’Masana, Maseru. Ms Sibolla sustained injuries in the incident which occurred just two days before Dr Thabane’s inauguration for his second stint as premier.

Her Tuesday court appearance was her first since she first appeared in court to face the murder and attempted murder charges on 5 February 2020.

Shortly after being charged and remanded in custody by Maseru Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa on 5 February 2020, ’Maesaiah was controversially granted bail by Acting Chief Justice, ‘Maseforo Mahase, on the grounds that she needed to travel to South Africa for medical attention.

Her controversial bail has since been challenged by Dr Thabane’s grandson, Thomas Thabane Jr, Lipolelo’s two nephews, Khauhelo Molapo and Thuto Makhooane, as well as Ms Sibolla.

The quartet petitioned the apex court to review and set aside Justice Mahase’s decision to grant Ms Thabane bail on the grounds that it was unprocedurally done. They argue that Justice Mahase should not have presided over the bail application in the first place.

The quartet had hoped that the appeal court, which normally has two sessions per year in April and in October, would convene a special sitting to hear their appeal.

But this was not be after the apex court’s Assistant Registrar, Advocate Mosito Rabotsoa, told the Lesotho Times that they could not convene the special sitting as requested by Thabane Jr and his co-appellants due to “logistical challenges”.

Adv Rabotsoa said the appeal would be heard during the appeal court’s normal sitting on 21 April 2020.

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