Outrage over ’Maesaiah bail

Outrage over ’Maesaiah bail

MASERU – THE opposition says it is outraged by the Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase’s decision to grant First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane bail “despite being a flight risk”.

Several opposition leaders last night described the decision as shocking, saying it just goes to prove that Lesotho’s courts are no longer independent.
’Maesaiah was yesterday charged with the murder of Thabane’s wife, Lipolelo Thabane, and attempting to murder Thato Sibolla.

The Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, said they were not surprised by the ruling and “it was well anticipated that things will turn out the way they did”.

Letsosa said the ruling shows that Lesotho’s courts have been nobbled.
“Justice now has eyes, it sees who to favour, and it has relatives and loved ones,” Letsosa said.
“Justice now knows when to return favours.”
Letsosa said the fact that the First Lady fled the country and was a fugitive shows that she is a flight risk.

He was quick to draw parallels with the case of former army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who he said “was just called through a telephone (call) and he went to the police but he was denied bail”.
The Socialist Revolution (SR) spokesperson, Thabo Shao, said “this is how selective justice works”.

Shao says the justice system of Lesotho never stops to amaze them because it “continues to disappoint not my other politicians but Basotho as well”.
“This is one case that has fully revealed what the ABC government is about,” Shao said, adding that the ruling party has “purely demonstrated that they run the justice system of this country”.
Shao said even the manner in which the bail hearing was carried out “leaves a bitter taste”.

“Her bail hearing was heard after 3pm when the prison is closed and we know that prisoners are not released after 3pm. It was after 6pm when she was released,” he said.
Shao said they are planning a march against the polarised judiciary specifically against the Acting Chief Justice ’Maseforo Mahase.

Teboho Sekata, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s secretary general, said the bail case has tarnished the judiciary’s image.
“We know that Justice Mahase is a member of the ABC and we know that ABC (exiles) stayed at her house in Ficksburg and we know there are strings being pulled,” Sekata said.

Sekata said he did not understand why ’Maesaiah can be granted bail while
Lt Gen Kamoli is awaiting trial in custody after being denied bail on account that he is likely to flee.

“We know Kamoli answered the police call, he cooperated and never fled police arrest but in this case the First Lady refused to report herself when called, she fled the country and later handed herself in,” he said.
“The ABC has captured the courts and the administration of the country.”
Kimetso Mathaba, leader of the National Independent Party (NIP), said he never thought the bail would be granted and he was stunned when it was.
“Many cases of such caliber have set the precedence of how murder cases of people who have evaded arrest are handled,” he said.

Mathaba said the fact that ’Maesaiah evaded arrest and fled the country shows that she is a flight risk and therefore should be treated in the same way as Lt Gen Kamoli.
However, ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa said “there were no flaws in how the case was handled”.

“We are grateful as the ABC that the First Lady finally handed herself in and cooperated with the police,” Masoetsa said.
“We were ashamed when she fled the country and became a fugitive but now we are at ease because she did the right thing and handed herself in,” he said.
“The police did their job, the courts did their job as well and we cannot blame politics for the outcome.”

He said the decision of the court “was fair because it looks at the reasons of both parties and makes a decision based on that”.
“It is everyone’s right to have a bail hearing and if circumstances allow, to be granted bail. The First Lady is no exception,” he said.

Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, leader for the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), said it will not be easy for the police to appeal the bail decision “because as it is the prosecution is working for the government and the First Lady is part of the government elites”.
“They can do it but it is not going to be easy at all,” Advocate Rakuoane said.

Rose Moremoholo

 

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