Lesotho PM fails to appear for murder charge on medical grounds: aide

Elias Hubbard
February 21, 2020

Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had not turned up for a court appearance over his wife's death two hours after the hearing was meant to start on Friday, and police said they were unsure of his whereabouts.

The 80-year-old Thabane took to the radio to announce he would step down at the end of July but chose not to mention the murder case.

Lipolelo, who had been estranged from Thabane and filed for divorce, she was shot dead in a vehicle near her Maseru home on the night of 14 June 2017. She is now on bail.

Thabane's private secretary Thabo Thakalekoala said the prime minister would be back in Lesotho some time this weekend.

The southern African kingdom already has watched, shocked, as the prime minister's current wife, Masesaiah, was charged earlier this month in the murder after briefly fleeing the country.

His spokesman Relebohile Moyeye said he could not comment because he had not seen the police charges. Police allege Maesaiah Thabane hired eight assassins to kill her but was not present at the shooting.

Lipolelo, then 58, and Thabane were going through an acrimonious divorce at the time of her death, when an unknown assailant shot her dead in her vehicle. Her friend, Thato Sibolla, who was travelling with her in the vehicle, escaped with gunshot wounds and has since fled to neighbouring South Africa for her personal safety.

The prime minister's resignation comes days after his party's executive council called for him to step down immediately.

"I hope that the remaining months that I will spend in office will afford parliament and my party enough time to work on transitional arrangements". I might still have the necessary zeal and fervor to continue serving my people and country, but the truth is that at my age I have lost most of my energy.

On Thursday, he made another statement saying that he would retire by the end of July or earlier.

"It has been agreed with his lawyer that he will appear (in court) and he will be formally charged with. murder", Deputy Police Commissioner Paseka Mokete told AFP of the case that has also drawn in the prime minister's current wife.

"This is no longer about waiting for him to give us a date, but it is the decision of the (party) that he should go by 20 February", said Masoetsa.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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