thomas thabane lesotho

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane. File Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

Here’s why Lesotho’s prime minister has been charged with murder

The 80-year-old statesman will be formally charged on Friday.

thomas thabane lesotho

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane. File Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane is about to be charged with the murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane. 

This is the latest in a series of dramatic developments in the case that goes back to the brutal killing in 2017.

Thabane’s new wife, Maesaiah Thabane, was arrested and charged with the murder earlier this month, and now her husband seems set to join her in the dock.

Just days before the 80-year-old’s inauguration as head of state, Lipolelo was gunned down in an apparent hit near the capital of Maseru. 

Lesotho’s deputy police commissioner Paseka Mokete told AFP that the prime minister would be formally charged on Friday. 

“It has been agreed with his lawyer that he will appear [in court] and he will be formally charged with murder,” he said. 

Unfurling drama in Lesotho 

When she was asked to testify in the case, Maesaiah fled the country, remaining missing for almost a month until she handed herself over to police after they made an arrangement with her lawyer to collect her from the South African border. 

Speaking earlier in February, Mokete announced Maesaiah’s arrest and said that there were other suspects that were believed to be involved in the killing. 

“She has been charged with murder alongside eight others who are in Lesotho and South Africa,” Mokete said.

Tom Thabane was questioned by police last week, and when news of this meeting got out, angry residents staged marches and called for his head.

Pressure mounted on the prime minister in the wake of his wife’s arrest as the scandal gained veracity, and he ultimately bowed to pressure to resign, although he has not yet provided a date for his departure. 

He cited “old age” for his decision.

Survivor calls for appeal 

Thato Sibolla, who was in the car with Lipolelo when the assailants fired off rounds of bullets, survived the attack and called the appeal court to review Maesaiah’s bail. 

She suggested that the current First Lady is dangerous. 

Sibolla is seeking protection in South Africa while she questioned the circumstances under which Maesiah Thabane was granted bail. 

The South African understands that she intends to apply for asylum here as she currently fears for her life.