Court, LCS officials grilled

Court, LCS officials grilled

MASERU – THE police’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) this week summoned court and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) officials over last week’s controversial granting of bail to ’Maesaiah Thabane. The First Lady was granted bail last Wednesday by Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase under circumstances that some lawyers said were murky.
The decision sparked howls of protest from the opposition and some judicial officers.

Some court officials who spoke to thepost confirmed that they were summoned by the police to shed light on the procedures that were followed when the bail application was granted.
The officials declined to comment further saying the matter was sensitive. “We can only confirm that we were indeed summoned by the police but we cannot say much,” one of the court officials who declined to be named said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete last night said they demanded clarity from the officials over the “dubious circumstances under which First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane was granted bail”. “We work with the courts almost every day. We know the procedure,” DCP Mokete said. He said they “could smell a rat here”.

DCP Mokete said at the time that ’Maesaiah was released from detention the accounts department was already closed. “I believe we have a case against these officers,” DCP Mokete said. But since they are civil servants, the police will have to be given a directive by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) whether to prosecute them or not.

DCP Mokete said the officers were likely to face a charge of corruption. He said there were suspicions that the officers abused their power. “We are certain that the law has been breached,” he said. He said they have a strong belief that ’Maesaiah was released before the bail was even paid. ’Maesaiah appeared before the police on February 4 and appeared before the magistrate’s court the next day. She was released on a M1000 bail by the High Court.

She is charged with the murder of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane.
’Maesaiah has also been charged with the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla who was with Lipolelo when she was gunned down.
Justice Mahase has come under a barrage of criticism from lawyers, politicians and civil society for granting bail to a murder suspect who had been on the run for weeks.
Justice Mahase is awaiting confirmation as Lesotho’s substantive Chief Justice. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has already initiated a process to confirm her into the position.
The move was however stopped in its tracks after some lawyers challenged the decision in the courts of law.

Majara Molupe

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