Police in Lesotho say the country’s first lady, Maesiah Thabane, has returned from South Africa after fleeing from authorities investigating the 2017 shooting death of Lipolelo Thabane, the former wife of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
She is in police custody pending formal murder-related charges, according to journalist Nthakoana Ngatane of Eyewitness News, who was reporting from the small southern African nation.
Maesiah Thabane initially hid from authorities in early January after refusing to report for questioning, in a case that has undermined Thabane’s leadership and further sharpened the divisions within his All Basotho Convention party, ultimately leading to Thabane’s announcement that he will be stepping aside into retirement.
Police commissioner Holomo Molibeli previously told reporters with the MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism that there was an existing arrest warrant for Maesiah Thabane weeks ago. She has been married to the prime minister since shortly after the 58-year-old Lipolelo, above, with whom he was entangled in a difficult divorce, was gunned down in her driveway in Ha Masana on the eve of his inauguration.
Investigators said they had evidence that the prime minister’s cell phone was used at the murder scene, and Thabane himself was called in for questioning. In recent weeks he tried unsuccessfully to have Molibeli removed from his position, as well as attempting to appoint a judge some say will call a fair trial for Maesiah Thabane into question.
A January 20 letter from the Lesotho attorney general’s called on police to honor the prime minister’s executive powers, while simultaneously referencing a Molibeli affidavit that said Tom Thabane was implicated “in no uncertain terms.”
Lipolelo Thabane married the prime minister in 1987; divorce proceedings were filed in 2012. She was Thabane’s second wife and a founding member of the ABC, and the two raised a daughter together.
The prime minister’s daughter, Nkoya Hlaele, publicly accused Maesiah Thabane in November of ordering her mother’s death.
Image: China TV file