‘Maesaiah back in court

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU –  The First Lady `Maesaiah Thabane`s release from detention on a charge of the murder of Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane’s estranged wife, Lipolelo, will be interrogated by the Appeal Court on Tuesday next week.

This is after her release was challenged by her husband`s grandson Thomas Thabane Jnr, the deceased Lipolelo Thabane`s two nephews Khauhelo Molapo and Thuto Mokhooane as well as well as one Thato Sibolla who was with Lipolelo at the time of the murder.

`Maesaiah has been formally charged for murdering Lipolele as well as the attempted murder of Sibolla in an incident that happened at Ha Masana in June 2017, a few days before Prime Minister Thabane`s inauguration as head of the Lesotho government on a second stint.

The First Lady was on February 5 remanded in custody by Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopela who on the day, read the charge to ‘Maesaiah, informed her of her bail rights and remanded her custody as the magistrate courts do not have jurisdiction to hear murder cases.

Later on the day, Acting Chief Justice, `Maseforo Mahase ordered the release of Thabane with a bail deposit of M1 000. The bail was granted without the benefit of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) having responded to the bail. This was despite the office (DPP) showing an intention to oppose.

Justice Mahase is reported to have ordered that `Maesaiah be released because she was due for a checkup. Aggrieved by Justice Mahase`s decision, Thomas Thabane`s grandson then teamed with Lipolelo`s nephews to petition the Appeal Court.

They are also joined by Sibolla who said states in court papers that she is now living in fear after learning that `Maesaiah was a suspect and has been released on bail. She said she had to flee to South Africa for her safety.  Sibolla also said that she believed that by virtue of being an eye witness and main victim, she ought to have been consulted by the prosecution when the bail application was moved.

“The 2nd respondent (`Maesaiah) is the suspect in this murder case and she has been charged accordingly, I learnt through media reports that the 2nd respondent has been arrested on suspicion that she was part of the conspiracy behind my attempted murder and murder of my deceased friend Lipolelo Thabane. I reasonably believed that being an eyewitness and main victim I would be consulted by the prosecution when a petition for bail is moved.”  

Sibolla and company have asked the Apex Court to overturn Judge Mahase decision that the First lady be out on bail. They also want the court to nullify proceedings that happened before Justice Mahase on February 5 resulting in `Maesaiah being freed.

“That decision of the Court a quo (High Court) as per Madam Acting Chief Justice M.Mahase be and is hereby replaced with the following orders: The petion is dismissed, the petitioner to remain in custody pending finalization of criminal proceedings against her in the High Court of Lesotho,” read part of their petition.

Their case is among the appeals to be heard by the Appeal Court in first session this year. The session was supposed to be last month but due to Covid 19 outbreak, it was postponed to this month and resumed today. In these session, judgments will be made on the basis of written submission from lawyers and Judges of the Appeal will be working from their own countries.

In a situation where and online hearing is necessary and where either lawyers may need to clarify issues, a video teleconferencing has been arranged by the Judiciary.

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