’Maesaiah wants charge dropped

’Maesaiah wants charge dropped

MASERU – FIRST Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane will ask the court to let her walk free if prosecutors continue to delay bringing her for trial on charges of allegedly murdering her predecessor.
’Maesaiah is accused of orchestrating the killing of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017, two days before Thabane was sworn-in as Prime Minister.
’Maesaiah officially became the First Lady weeks after the killing, and police say they have phone records connecting her to the murder.

She is also facing an attempted murder charge, accused of trying to kill Thato Sibolla, who was with Lipolelo on the night when the former first lady was shot dead.
Further, ’Maesaiah is facing charges of malicious damage to property in relation to the damage to the car Lipolelo and her friend were travelling in.

Her lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, told magistrate Thamae Thamae of Maseru magistrate’s court on Tuesday that both the legal team and ’Maesaiah were tired of the postponements of the case.
“If by 14th next month the suspects would have not been dragged before the court, I am going to file an application seeking the court to drop the charges against my client,” Advocate Setlojoane said.
“We cannot keep on coming to the court for remands without any proceedings in the case yet the investigations are complete,” he said.

Advocate Setlojoane told the court that he would evoke section 3(2) of the Speedy Courts Trial Act 2002, read with its section 12.
The Speedy Courts Trial Act says a charge or indictment shall be filed within 90 days from the date on which an accused first appears before a judicial officer.
It also says if the person is not charged within 90 days “such charges against the person…shall be dismissed”.
It also says if the trial does not commence within 90 days “the charge or indictment shall be dismissed”.

The Act says in determining whether to dismiss the charge or indictment, the court shall consider “the seriousness of the offence, the facts and circumstances of the case which led to the delay”.
It also says the court should consider “the impact of a re-prosecution on the administration of justice”.
Advocate Setlojoane’s threat to apply for dismissal of charges against ’Maesaiah came after magistrate Thamae postponed the murder case to April 14.

The prosecution told the court that they are waiting for three other suspects who are still holed up in South Africa.
Advocate Puseletso Sekoai, on behalf of the prosecution, told the court that the investigations are complete, but want the police to arrest three other suspects believed to be holed in South Africa so that they join the First Lady in the dock.

A famo music gang group leader, Rethabile Mokete, also known as Mosotho Chakela, is one of the suspects, according to the police.
Last month the prosecution wanted to join Thabane to the case but he applied to the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that a sitting Prime Minister enjoys immunity from criminal charges.
Sitting in the dock while appearing for the remand hearing, ’Maesaiah seemed relaxed and donned a light brown coat, matching high heels and wore a brown seshoeshoe headscarf.
She wore a broad smile as her lawyers advanced their arguments for a speedy trial.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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