Lesotho’s First Lady Charged With The Murder Of Prime Minister’s Former Wife

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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Lesotho first lady Maesiah Thabane has been charged with murder for her alleged involvement in the killing of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife. This undated photo shows first lady Maesaiah Thabane addressing people in Lesotho’s capital Maseru. (AP Photo/Ezekiel Morake)

Police in Lesotho claim to have a strong case against first lady Maesiah Thabane after she was arrested for the murder of the prime minister’s former wife.

Maesiah Thabane has been charged with murder for her alleged involvement in the 2017 killing of Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane, according to AlJazeera.

She was shot and killed outside her home in Maseru in June 2017, two days before the prime minister’s inauguration.

Lipolelo and Thomas Thabane were involved in bitter divorce proceedings at the time of her murder, BBC reported.

New evidence came to light in January showing that the 80-year-old prime minister had communicated via his mobile phone with whoever was at the scene of the murder.

In 2015, during her husband’s first term in office, Lipolelo won a court battle to continue to be recognized as Lesotho’s first lady, even though the prime minister wanted her spousal benefits offered to Maesiah, who had been living with him as if she was his wife.

Thomas Thabane, who married Maesiah two months after Lipolelo’s killing, has yet to address the case publicly.

The prime minister has been questioned by the police regarding the murder. He has since bowed to public and political pressure and offered to resign at a future date.

The incident shocked the tiny mountain kingdom, which is landlocked by South Africa and has a long history of political turmoil. People in Lesotho have protested and held marches, pushing for the prime minister to step down because the scandal has affected his credibility.

While his resignation may be enough to satisfy his political opponents who want him out of office, his wife appears set to take the blame for the murder of Lipolelo.

Deputy commissioner of police Mokete Paseka said that the first lady was charged with murder and the authorities had a “strong case” against her, according to AlJazeera.

Eight other people in Lesotho and South Africa have also been arrested in connection with the murder of 58-year-old Lipolelo.

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In January, Maesiah Thabane fled Lesotho and crossed the border into South Africa when a warrant of arrest was issued against her. She returned to the country in early February and handed herself over to the police, EWN reported.

On Feb. 5, the first lady was granted bail of about $67 in court, outraging the people of Lesotho as she is considered a flight risk. The case has been postponed to Feb. 28.