Last Updated on April 18, 2023

Maesaiah Thabane charged with the Murder of Lipolelo Thabane

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Lesotho’s First Lady Maesaiah Thabane is finally in police custody after a month on the run. Maesaiah Thabane was on Wednesday served with charges over the killing of her predecessor, former First Lady Lipolelo Thabane.

The late Mrs. Thabane was shot dead in the capital, Maseru, just two days before Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s inauguration in 2017. At the time, the couple were in the middle of a bitter divorce and the prime minister was living with Maesaiah.

Political players in Lesotho say this arrest is unlikely to fix the many problems associated with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane who announced last month that he would step down over the controversy — but didn’t say when.

Thabane’s rule has been marred with several killings of high-ranking officials in recent years.

Background of the Lipolelo Thabane Murder Case

The attack was originally blamed on unknown armed men, but recent court papers filed by the country’s police commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, raised further questions.

Related: PM Thomas Thabane to Resign over Links to Wife’s Murder

For years, there was mystery around the attack but last month the police revealed they suspected that the prime minister and his wife were involved. The prime minister was also taken in for questioning after police linked a call made at the crime scene to his mobile. He has not been charged.

Lipolelo Thabane, 58, had been living apart from her husband since 2012. One evening in June 2017 while returning home, she was ambushed, shot several times at close range and died on the side of a road.

The murder shocked the nation. Mr Thabane described it as a “senseless killing” in his inauguration speech.

After nearly a month on the run – the law finally caught up with Maesaiah Thabane. Wearing a bright orange dress, the first lady cut a lonely figure in the dock as the magistrate read out the charges against her.

She is accused of masterminding the assassination of the prime minister’s estranged wife, Lipolelo Thabane, and the attempted murder of a family friend Thato Sibolla.

They were ambushed in the outskirts of Maseru, a stones-throw away from Lipolelo Thabane’s home. The two were shot several times. Lipolelo Thabane died on the scene, but Ms Sibolla survived the shooting and is expected to play a pivotal role in the state’s case against the first lady.

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