Former Prime Minister charged with murdering his wife

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  • Tom Thabane
    Tom Thabane
    Prime Minister of Lesotho

The former prime minister of a African kingdom is facing charges of murdering his estranged wife.

Lesotho's former PM, Thomas Thabane, was charged on Tuesday (local time) in a case that has shocked the southern African highland kingdom.

Lesotho is a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa.

Lesotho's then Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane addressing the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. Source: Getty
Lesotho's then Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane addressing the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. Source: Getty

Mr Thabane's current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, who has also been charged over the murder, sat beside him as the charges against them were read out at a preliminary court interview in closed chambers at the High Court of Lesotho.

Maesaiah Thabane, 43, and the former premier, now 82, have both denied involvement in the killing. 

Clad in a navy blue pin-striped suit and a light blue shirt, Thomas Thabane sat calmly next to his wife, who wore a maroon dress and a straw hat, as the charges were read out.

Lipolela Thabane was shot dead as she sat in her car near her home in the capital, Maseru, days before Thomas Thabane was sworn in as leader in June 2017. They had been going through an acrimonious divorce at the time of her death.

Police allege that Maesaiah hired eight assassins to kill Lipolelo but was not present at the shooting.

Prime Minister of Lesotho Tom Thabane and his wife Maesaiah Thabane sit at the Magistrate Court in Maseru, Lesotho, on February 24, 2020. Source: AFP
Prime Minister of Lesotho Tom Thabane and his wife Maesaiah Thabane sit at the Magistrate Court in Maseru, Lesotho, on February 24, 2020. Source: AFP

Thomas and Maesaiah Thabane, who married two months after the shooting, are also charged with the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla who was with Lipolelo Thabane when she was shot, and with malicious damage to property — the victim's car.

Thomas Thabane resigned in May 2020 after pressure to quit from his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, opposition figures and South African mediators.

The case will be heard in March, 2022.

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