Police hunt ‘Maesiah

Police hunt ‘Maesiah

MASERU – THE police have launched a massive hunt for First Lady ‘Maesiah Thabane after she allegedly slipped through their fingers at the State House last Friday.
The police suspect that ‘Maesiah skipped the country and is now holed up at a friend’s house somewhere in Ficksburg, according to court documents.
Yesterday afternoon police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, told thepost that they will soon ask Interpol to help in the hunt for ‘Maesiah.
By last night the police had started distributing “wanted posters” with ‘Maesiah’s identikit.

“They are being circulated across the country, including all the borders,” Superintendent Mpeli said of the posters.
“We are informing Interpol, which means there will be an international warrant of arrest.”
“We are following so many leads so we cannot speculate as to where she might be at the moment.”

A warrant of arrest was issued after ‘Maesiah refused to report to the police for questioning in connection with the murder of Lipolelo Thabane, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife, in July 2017.
Armed with that warrant the police went to arrest her at the State House but could not find her.
Instead the police found Thabane and Attorney General Haae Phoofolo.

After the search yielded nothing, Advocate Phoofolo assured the police that he would personally bring ‘Maesiah to the police headquarters on Monday.
The First Lady did not report to the police station on Monday as promised, prompting Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete to have a meeting with the Attorney General.
Advocate Phoofolo told Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete that ‘Maesiah “is nowhere to be found”.

On the same day Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete called ’Maesiah’s Advocate Setlojoane who had also promised to bring her to the station.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete said Advocate Setlojoane too told him that the First Lady was “nowhere to be found”.
Things appear to have gathered a dramatic pace since mid-morning last Friday when Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete wrote to ‘Maesiah “kindly” requesting her to report to the Criminal Investigation Division “to cast a light on some of the issues that arise in” the Lipolelo Thabane case.

After she refused to report to the station and could not be found at the State House, the police sought a warrant of arrest.
But this time the police were referring to her as a suspect in the murder of Lipolelo Thabane and attempted murder of Thato Sibolla, the woman who was with Lipolelo Thabane when she was ambushed and shot dead while driving to her home in Ha-Masana.

One of the officers investigating the matter is Constable Mongali who filed an affidavit in the application for the warrant.
Constable Mongali told the magistrate’s court that ‘Maesiah “acting in common purpose or in concert with other suspects caused the death of Mrs Lipolelo Thabane and attempted murder of Thato Sibolla by shooting at them with a firearm”.

He said after the First Lady refused to report to the police he believes “she is likely to jump the jurisdiction and evade justice”.
By Friday evening ‘Maesiah filed an urgent High Court application to stop the police from arresting her.
In her affidavit, the First Lady said after she received the letter inviting her to the police she was in the middle of a “very significant meeting” but told her lawyer she had no qualms complying with the request.
She told her lawyer that because of the tension between the Prime Minister and Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli she feared the police will not treat her “humanely”, especially after her police bodyguards had been withdrawn after the standoff when she refused to come to the station.

The First Lady said she pleaded that she should be interviewed at a neutral place and Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete had agreed to the request after a meeting with her lawyer.
She however said Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete later called her lawyer to say she should report to the police headquarters immediately.
She said while she was still shocked by Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete’s “sudden change of goal posts” a group of police officers arrived at the State House armed with a warrant.
‘Maesiah argues that the magistrate acted in the “most unorthodox manner” by issuing a warrant of arrest without giving her a hearing.
“…I have been condemned and my constitutional right to personal liberty (has) been curtained without any hearing whatsoever”.

She complained that she had been “punished unheard and will continue to suffer extreme prejudice” if the court does not intervene.
The warrant is “nothing less than an arbitrary and unconstitutional deprivation of my constitutionally entrenched right to a hearing before my liberty is taken away”, she said.
She wants the court to hear the case urgently because she is about to be arrested and she is sick.
She said she is currently “not in a good shape health wise” and is “constantly on medical support”.

The First Lady wants the court the block the police from arresting her pending finalisation of the case.
The warrant, she prays, should be reviewed and set aside.
The police have however fired back, with Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete telling the court that ‘Maesiah has no right to sue because she is “a fugitive from Justice”.

He said she has “since absconded and disappeared to date”.
Deputy Police Commissioner Mokete argues that the case should be dismissed because all papers in her application were not signed by her or a practising attorney.
The First Lady could not have signed her affidavit because she was already out of the country, he said.
“In fact she escaped the very night of the attempted arrest”.

He said it is both factually and legally incorrect for the First Lady to suggest that she should have been granted a hearing before the warrant was issued.
He pointed out that instead of coming to the police station as requested ‘Maesiah absconded and a reliable source has told the police that she is staying with a friend in Ficksburg.
Meanwhile, Justice Tseliso Monaphathi yesterday postponed the matter to Tuesday next week after intimating that there are some confidential issues in the case.

The case against ‘Maesiah is likely to further compromise Thabane who has since come under pressure to resign.
With his wife facing murder and attempted murder charges, Thabane might find it hard to remain Prime Minister. Already he has lost control of the All Basotho Convention and faces a no confidence vote from a loose coalition of his own party and opposition MPs.

His wife’s legal troubles are likely to embolden the opposition and a faction of his own party in their bid to push him out. Thabane has remained silent since his troubles started.
Last week he was forced to abandon his attempt to suspend the police commissioner.
He hastily cut an out-of-court deal that ensured that the commissioner remains in office. With his job safe, the commissioner has continued to relentlessly pursue Thabane’s wife.

Staff Reporter

Previous Thabane to step down
Next First Lady’s employee found dead in SA

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