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Lesotho’s high stakes murder mystery! Prime Minister Tom Thabane to step down as cops hunt first lady over the 2017 murder of Thabane’s estranged wife – In the midst of a contentious divorce

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 “The investigations reveal that there was a telephonic communication at the scene of the crime in question… with another cell phone. The cell phone number belongs to you” – Police chief to PM
Lesotho’s murder mystery creates tension as Prime Minister Tom Thabane faces questions over the death of  his estranged wife – The  80-year-old PM and his wife are caught up in a murder investigation involving allegations so sinister that they seem almost surreal
Thomas Motsoahae Thabane’ and his current wife Maesaiah, 42, are wanted for questioning in connection with the 2017 murder of Thabane’s then estranged wife, Lipolelo on June 14, 2017 
Lipolelo Thebane, 58, who had been living apart from her husband since 2012, was killed just two days before Thomas Thabane was sworn in as prime minister
The killing initially was blamed on unknown armed men, but in recent times the country’s police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, filed court papers filed by raising further questions
Molibeli in a letter upbraids PM Thebane: “The investigations reveal that there was a telephonic communication at the scene of the crime in question… with another cell phone. The cell phone number belongs to you.”
First lady
A warrant of arrest was issued for first lady Maesaiah Thabane on 10 January after she failed to present herself to the police for questioning.
She has not been seen publicly for two weeks and no-one seems to know her whereabouts and officials unwilling to speak on the subject
PM Thomas Thebane has announced that he will be stepping down  citing “age-related reasons” but has given no date for his departure
Thomas Thabane and Maesaiah Thabane 1Lesotho’s prime minister Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his current wife Maesaiah Thaban are caught up in a murder investigation involving allegations so sinister that they have the makings of a crime novel. Neitheer has been charged, but the first lady has vanished after failing to report for a police interviw on Jan. 10

Lesotho’s prime minister and his wife are caught up in a murder investigation involving allegations so sinister that they are surreal.
While the country’s first couple face a barrage of questions from investigators, members of the public seem to be carrying on with life in the country’s capital city of Maseru, oblivious of the sinister web entangling the state house in the small kingdom that is completely landlocked by South Africa.
A reflection of the widening implication of the unsolved three-year killing og the country’s former first lady is that while on the surface everything is in order but newspaper billboards plastered on shop windows and affixed to lamp posts give the first indication that something is deeply wrong in Lesotho. – One headline reads in bold type: “Police Hunt First Lady.”
Yet another headline announces: “Embattled PM agrees to quit.”

Lesotho police Hunt First Lady Maesaiah Thebane 1Newspaper headlines in Maseru: “Police Hunt First Lady.” Another says: “Embattled PM agrees to quit.”

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, 80, and his current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, are wanted for questioning in connection with the 2017 murder of Thabane’s then estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane on June 14, 2017
The estranged couple had been had been living apart from her husband since 2012, when 58-year-old Lipelolo was killed just two days before Thabane was sworn in as prime minister in 2017.
In a savage murder that shocked the nation, Lipelolo was ambushed on her way home that evening, shot several times at close range and died on the side of a dirt road. , Mr Thabane at the time described it as a “senseless killing”.

Lipolelo Thabane 1Two days before her estranged husband was sworn in as PM in 2017, Lipolelo Thabane [photo], was ambushed on a dirt road and shot several times at close range and died on the side of a dirt road. Thomas Thabane describe her murder as a “senseless killing”Thomas Thabane 2.Thomas Thabane [photo], was sworn in two days after the estranged wife with whom he was locked in a highly contentious divorce was murdered. He had just suffered an humiliating loss in court to ex Lipelolo Thebane, at the time

At the time of her death, the attack was blamed on unknown armed men, but recent court papers filed by the country’s police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, have raised further questions.
Among the court papers, was a copy of a letter, dated 23 December 2019, that the police chief wrote to the prime minister saying: “The investigations reveal that there was a telephonic communication at the scene of the crime in question… with another cell phone. The cell phone number belongs to you.”
A warrant of arrest was issued for first lady Maesaiah Thabane on 10 January after she failed to present herself to the police for questioning.
She has not been seen publicly for two weeks and no-one seems to know her whereabouts and officials unwilling to speak on the subject.
She has not been seen publicly for two weeks and no-one seems to know where she is, well no-one willing to talk that is.
The Prime Ministeer who is still in the country, has avoided any questions about his wife’s whereabouts. So far government officials refuse to comment on the matter while the official position of the ruling party is that the matter is yet to be addressed.
Last week, he reluctantly agreed to be questioned by the police. However, neither  Thabane nor his wife have been charged.

Thomas Thabane 3PM Thomas Motsoahae Thabane’s wife Maesaiah Thabane is still in hiding from the police, after failing to turn up for police questioning over the June 14, 2017 killing of Thabane’s former wife Lipolelo Thabane, along a country road
It says something about the separation of judicial and political power in Lesotho that a prime minister can be wanted for questioning but the police investigation has not been easy.

Kingdom of Lesotho is an inland, mountain kingdom with a population of 2.2 million in a land area of 11,720 sq miles that is landlocked enntirely by South Africa. The country’s government is headed by a constitutional monarchy.
Hinting at death threats and outright intimidation Police Chief Molibeli, revealed that the Thabane investigation was one of the most complex and dangerous cases he had worked on in his 32 years as a policeman.
“It hasn’t been easy, there have been many attempts for this investigation to not continue.
“I believe what we are doing is right, as long as my conscious is clear. The people of Lesotho want to know the truth and it is our job to investigate and get to that truth,” he said.
People have made threats on his life for pursuing the investigation, he adds, but he insists he is not scared.
On Jan 15 the High Court heard Police Commissioner Molibeli’s application to stop the prime minister from advising Lesotho’s King Letsie III from sending him into early retirement.
The police commissioner in recent weeks successfully challenged efforts by the prime minister to send him into suspension and forced leave,  claimed the prime minister wanted him ousted in a bid to block the murder investigation. The PM allegedly had recommend a new commissioner “to immunise himself from criminal investigations and prosecution, thus thwarting the rule of law.”

Thomas Thabane and Maesaiah Thabane 2Shortly after his wife’s death, a 77-year-old Thomas Thabane married his current wife Maesaiah, then 40, at a public ceremony [photo], in 2017. The pair had been living in openly while his ex was still alive and counter-suing to remain in the marriage
“Not at all. I have people who support me. In the past the people who would’ve threatened me would be the army but no, I have a good relationship with them.
“We all just want to get Lesotho out of this quagmire.”
While the police will not say what evidence they have, Molibeli hited the case was “strong”.
Those who knew Lipolelo say she shied away from the limelight and preferred her slow village life in Ha Masana on the outskirts of the capital.
But the months prior to her death had been filled with turmoil. News of her protracted divorce from Thabane frequently made headlines, as did a counter-suit from her to continue to be recognised as Lesotho’s rightful First Lady. That divorce was never finalised.
After he had separated from Lipolelo, Thabane was living with Maesaiah as if she was his wife and she was enjoying all the perks that came with the position. Lipolelo on the other hand had been left high and dry.
In 2015, after a long legal wrangle, the High Court ruled in Lipolelo’s favour and ordered the government to stop using state funds to support Maesaiah.
It further ruled that she was to stop “performing any functions and exercising any rights vested on the applicant [Lipolelo] as the First Spouse”. It was a humiliating loss for the prime minister.
The ruling meant that until the divorce was finalised, Lipolelo was still legally recognised as his spouse and his government was obliged by law to take care for of her.
The divorce was never finalised.
Thomas Thabane 1PM Thomas Thebane [center], has announced that he will be stepping down, “for age related reasons” but has given no date for his departure
This small country is relatively peaceful, but does have a reputation for the killing of high-ranking officials. In the past, these have been as a result of a dispute within the military or political classes.
Thabane himself once fled to South Africa supposedly because there was a hit out on him.
Mme Lipolelo, as she was known here, was neither political nor someone who had political enemies. For many her death was always suspicious.
Shocked citizens find the circumstances of her death strange, to saythe least. Those who find hey find the secrecy around the killing strange say “Mme Lipolelo deserves justice.”
Although people are intrigued by the case and are following each twist and turn, there is still a sense of fear, behind close doors are unequivocal that  “It’s been a big embarrassment for the country.”  and would rather have the First Lady must come back andd answer the questions.
Rumours of violent intrigue have long haunted the first family.
Thabane’s daughter from his first marriage has alleged that Maesaiah, wife number three, had a hand in the death of Lipolelo, wife number two.
Supposedly because Maesaiah wanted to be the official first lady but was being blocked by the high court, which in 2015 ruled that Lipolelo would retain that role until she divorced Mr Thabane, a process she was drawing out in order to keep the perks of office. Hitting back, Thabane has accused his daughter of trying to topple him to boost the career of her husband, himself a politician.
Public protests in Lesotho against Thomas Thabane 1“It paints us as something we are not. The First Lady must come back.” There has been a public outcry as activist seek justice for the murdered estranged wife of PM Thomas Thebane
Maesaiah Thabane 1“Bedroom coup”: First lady Maesaiah Thebane seen [left] with her husband, has repeatedly been accused of interfering in the running of government, has run afoul of he president’s party as well as the people of Lesotho
But Maesaiah does not appear to be backing down.
Her legal team have been trying to have her warrant of arrest set aside. The court is yet to rule on the matter.
Her lawyers told the Maseru High Court that the First Lady had always been willing to cooperate with the police but was busy with official duties on the day she was due to be questioned. They have not explained why she appears to have left.
No stranger to controversy, Maesaiah Thabane in the last couple of years has repeatedly been accused of interfering in the running of government, something the people of Lesotho have termed a “bedroom coup”.
She denies the allegations but the accusations have cost her the favour with some in the party. The scandal has also had political implications for the prime minister exposing cracks in the ranks of the ruling party.
While his supporters have questioned the timing of the investigation, claiming that their leader was the victim of a smear campaign, he has been forced to agree to step down, although he has not said when.
He has said he was resigning because of his age and made no link with the investigation.
The governing All Basotho Convention [ABC] is deeply divided but in the days since the scandal erupted its members have tried to present a united front – if only to
keep opposition parties at bay and buy Mr Thabane time to plan his next move.
In a sign that Thabane  might not have too long and a sign of a people who are growing tired of his administration’s record believe this is one scandal too many, hundreds of people, calling themselves “concerned citizens of Lesotho”, marched in the capital last week, as part of what they promise will be a series of protests aimed at forcing the prime minister to leave immediately.
“We are determined to keep protesting until he goes.
“If that means that there is instability, so be it, it would have been brought on by the prime minister,” protest organiser Ramahoana Mathlosa said.
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