‘Set me free for ailing Thabane’s sake’

. . . ’Maesaiah fights for new bail

RELEBOHILE TSOAMOTSE

MASERU – Former First Lady, ’Maesaiah Thabane, has said she fears that her husband, former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane could die if she remains in detention. The controversial third wife of Thabane was on Wednesday sent to jail following the revocation of her bail by the Court of Appeal of Lesotho. She will be back in court on June 16. The 43-years-old ’Maesaiah stands accused of the 2017 murder of Thabane’s second wife, Lipolelo, who was waylaid and shot near her home at Ha ’Masana in the outskirt of the capital Maseru – two days before Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.

Having enjoyed short-lived freedom after she was controversially granted bail in February by the Acting Chief Justice, ’Maseforo Mahase, the outspoken ’Maesaiah arrived in court on Wednesday morning under police escort for the hearing, following widespread speculation that she had skipped the country to avoid arrest. Former Prime Minister Thabane is also suspected of having had a hand in the murder of his estranged wife though he is yet to be formally charged after attempts to haul him to court were thwarted after his challenge that he could not face prosecution as a sitting premier.

This, she says, is due to Thabane’s health status that has greatly deteriorated, resulting in him being in and out of the hospital with a condition that has not shown any improvement. ’Maesaiah says Thabane’s illness requires not just a family member but the wife who will always be there to assist him. “Your petitioner should disclose that at this stage that the health of her spouse (the former Prime Minister) has been deteriorating at an alarming rate in the recent past. He has been in and out of the hospital with a condition that has shown no improvement but rather deteriorates rapidly every day.

“For instance, between the beginning of May and now, he has been to his doctors in Bloemfontein five times. There is a grave fear that unless closely and well looked after on a minute by minute basis he will die,” the former First Lady of Lesotho pleads. For this, she has asked the High Court to release her on a bail deposit of R10 000. In a bail petition filed yesterday, ’Maesaiah undertakes to abide by set bail conditions and also tells the court that she abided by the conditions set by Acting Chief Justice, ’Maseforo Mahase who granted her bail on February 5.

’Maesaiah tells the court after being diagnosed with a severe illness disclosed to the court as well as undergoing an operation on Friday 29, her husband is due for assessment and further treatments at Medi-Clinic in Bloemfontein, South Africa. According to ’Maesaiah, due to his illness, her husband needs personal assistance, private and sensitive, adding “he takes on average no less than 12 prescribed tablets of different types daily. “There is no way in which he will be able to administer on himself this medication in the condition in which he is.”

She also notes she has co-operated with the police at all times when she was called even in the extreme circumstances when she had to take care of the sick husband, save for an instance when her bodyguards and those of her husband had been withdrawn by police and as a result she feared. Her fear, she states, was also necessitated by the fact that there were tensions between her husband and police over administrative state issues and she gravely feared they would take out their vengeance and anger on her at the time.

On May 29, ’Maesaiah continues, Thabane had to undergo an operation and she had to be with him after the operation was due to the stage of the health condition, and “for this reason, therefore, your petitioner and husband were on that date in Bloemfontein all having been arranged by the Government of Lesotho and the South African Embassy in Maseru.” The former First Lady also states that after the operation, she had to be closer for the daily dressing and close to the hospital in case of emergency and only managed to come back to Lesotho on June 3. “On arrival your petitioner immediately went straight police headquarters where she surrendered herself pursuant to the Court of Appeal judgment,” her court papers read.

Magistrate Thamae Thamae then remanded her in custody pending a bail hearing leading to her withdrawing her initial petition to launch the present one. She maintains she did not participate in the killing of Lipolelo Thabane, whom she is accused of killing, and that she was not anywhere near her Ha ’Masana home on the date the deceased was killed. “Your petitioner avers that she did not kill the deceased as alleged in the charge sheet at all, she has had no hand in her killing and has not participated in any form or manner whatsoever in killing and/ or in a plot to have killed if any.

“Indeed, on the evening on which it is alleged that she was shot and killed, your petitioner was nowhere near Ha ’Masana where the deceased was allegedly gunned down. “She was throughout the evening at her place of residence at Hills View, in Maseru, with her husband and other family members until bed time and until morning. She never left home that evening,” continues ’Maesaiah’s plea. Having abided by the previous bail conditions, ’Maesaiah says, she is also ready to abide by conditions that the court will impose and undertakes to stand trial until finality and not interfere with police investigations or witnesses, adding that she is eager to have the trial proceed.

These developments come after Justice Mahase’s decision to grant bail was challenged before the Court of Appeal. She appeared before the Magistrate Court on February 5 and was formally charged. Magistrate Nthabiseng Moopisa remanded ’Maesaiah in custody but ACJ Mahase later ordered her release on bail. There was controversy surrounding the manner in which the bail was granted. Dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, Thabane’s grandson, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane Jnr, Lipolelo Thabane’s two nephews – Khauhelo Molapo and Thuto Mokhooane – as well as well as one Thato Sibolla who was with Lipolelo when she was assassinated, petitioned the Appeal Court to review the bail. The Appeal Court agreed with them and cancelled the order. In cancelling Judge Mahase’s order, the Appeal Court bench ordered that the bail be remitted to the High Court before a different judge and that the High Court should enroll it urgently to be heard in an open court.

 

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