. . . attacks police failure to arrest Thabane over wife’s murder
MASERU – High Court judge, Justice Thamasanqa Nomncongo, has blasted police for failing to arrest former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane over his alleged involvement in the murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo. Since Thabane has not been arrested even though his immunity ended when he vacated the premier’s office, it simply means police only want to be dramatic by continuing to implicate him, the judge said. Justice Nomncongo said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete could have arrested Thabane by now if the former premier is indeed a suspect in the murder.
“There is another suspect we are fond of, he is the former Prime Minister whose name I think is just dropped in just for drama because if he was a suspect, we all know he is amongst us, Mokete would have arrested him a long time ago because the immunity that Mokete says Thabane claimed has long perished with his resignation…” He added: “There is no such immunity now, but Thabane is not being prosecuted.” Judge Nomncongo made the remarks on Monday before granting Thabane’s wife, ’Maesaiah, bail where he argued there was no tangible evidence placed before him against granting the bail.
’Maesaiah was on June 5 sent to prison after her initial bail was revoked by the Apex Court. Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase had on February 5 granted her M1 000 bail before this was overturned by the Appeal Court. The Apex Court ordered that the bail be heard afresh before a different High Court judge and the matter was placed before Justice Nomncongo. He heard the bail application on June 16 and delivered judgement on Monday. In his judgment, Justice Nomncongo labeled DCP Mokete’s affidavit against granting of bail a hearsay that contained “wild allegations.”
“We have DPC Mokete’s affidavit who says he opposes bail, we hear his depositions and I do not want to say they are wild but they are allegations such as: that the petitioner is prone to violence, that she attacked somebody in some medical institution. It is so much of hearsay because even the person alleged to have been attacked has not filed affidavits in this case,” he said. Further, Judge Nomncongo took offence with DCP Mokete’s use of words such as heinous and grotesque crime in his affidavit. This after DCP had said: “The available evidence does not only demonstrate the ability of the Petitioner (‘Maesaiah) to pay assassins to kill people, but also of her having paid people not to divulge her involvement in this most heinous and grotesque crime.”
The judge said the language was emotional and that no evidence has been placed to support the statements. This, he said, was also in affidavits by witnesses who were opposing bail, Thato Sibolla and ’Makarabo Mojakhomo “It is said here for instance that the available evidence not only demonstrates the ability of the Petitioner to pay assassins to kill people, but also having paid people not to divulge her involvement in this most heinous and grotesque crime, who has convicted the petitioner of these so-called heinous and grotesque crimes?”
He added: “There is no evidence at all that she even pulled the trigger that killed this person but people say she shot and caused the death of Lipolelo, you do not make wild statements like that without putting the facts. None have been put before me.” For that, he ordered ’Maesaiah’s release from detention, indicating that nothing has been said against conditions she had asked to be released under: M10 000 bail deposit, reporting to police every two weeks and reporting each time she leaves the country.
The judge said he would not keep ’Maesaiah while it is not even clear as to when the rest of the suspects believed to be outside the country would be extradited. He also said ’Maesaiah found herself confused as to what charge she was reacting to in the bail. This, he said, was a result of being remanded on the charge of murder and attempted murder yet DCP Mokete in his affidavit opposing her bail said “the petitioner not only shared common purpose but conspired with other suspects.”
The mix-up in the charges, Judge Nomncongo said, put ’Maesaiah in a situation where she does not really know the charge she is facing. “The petitioner’s charge sheet says she is accused or charged for killing Lipolelo Thabane and attempting to kill Thato Sibolla. This is in contrast with DCP Mokete who says the petitioner not only shared common purpose but that she conspired with other suspects. Upon her reaction, there is a twist of common purpose and conspiracy. She does not know exactly what she is facing.”
Justice Nonmcongo said he granted ’Maesaiah bail for having not been opposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, who has constitutional powers to prosecute and oppose bail. Motinyane had not filed an affidavit in opposition of the bail but relied on DCP Mokete’s opposition of the bail but the judge said in the absence of her affidavit or anyone from her office, it is argued that bail is not opposed. Judge Nomncongo said he is aware that DPP had not opposed the said bail when it was first brought before judge Mahase. Also, he said the DPP was opposed to witnesses who were challenging ACJ’s decision to grant bail before the Apex Court. “I doubt that DPP has exercised her functions in this regard. She did not only oppose bail while it was before ACJ Mahase but she also opposed those who were challenge granting of bail in the Appeal Court.”
Speaking to Public Eye in an earlier interview the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) indicated that since Thabane resigned as prime minister on May 19 his claimed immunity became disputable. He told the paper the police investigating team wanted to bring the matter to finality and were consulting the DPP Motinyane to that effect. DCP Mokete said all loose ends around the case had been tied and the former premier’s arrest and prosecution was a matter of when.
“Actually even as soon as next week we can set the process in motion for his arrest and appearance before court, everything has been completed. “It’s just that I cannot put a specific date for his arrest because the DPP’s hands are presently full with the ongoing bail application of the former First Lady and we have to wrap that one up first before we haul the former prime minister to court,” DCP Mokete, who also heads the investigating team in the murder case, said a few weeks ago. DCP Mokete further stated that the imminent arrest and prosecution had to be done as soon as possible.