Lawyer insists ’Maesaiah still in Lesotho

Lawyer insists ’Maesaiah still in Lesotho

MASERU-FUGITIVE First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane’s lawyer, Advocate Rethabile Setlojoane, insists she is still in the country and they occasionally meet.
Advocate Setlojoane told Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi on Tuesday that ’Maesaiah can be found at her home in Makhoakhoeng and at the State House as is spelt out in her affidavit.
The First Lady is wanted by the police for questioning over the murder of Thabane’s second wife, Lipolelo. She failed to report to the police headquarters as had been requested by the police, and has not been seen in public since.

She was supposed to have gone to the police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on January 14.
When she did not show up and the police’s efforts to find her drew blanks, and the Maseru magistrate’s court issued a warrant of arrest on the same day.
The police raided the State House, the Prime Minister’s official residence, in search of his wife but failed to find her. The police have now distributed posters across the country calling on the public to contact the nearest police station if they spot her.

Speculation is rife that she has skipped the country to Ficksburg in the Free State.
But Advocate Setlojoane told Justice Monaphathi on Monday that the First Lady, as her affidavit shows, is in Maseru and they occasionally meet in his office.
“They know where to find her as she indicated in her founding affidavit that she resides in Makhoakhoeng but is currently staying at the State House,” Advocate Setlojoane said.
“So there was no need for the police to go around the place with a warrant searching for her as if she was a criminal,” the lawyer said.
He said the First Lady has no problem reporting to the police provided she is accompanied by her lawyer.
Advocate Setlojoane said ’Maesaiah is afraid to go to the police alone because she suspects that she would be ill-treated in light of the hostile relations between the police boss, Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, and her husband.

The lawyer was responding to Justice Monaphathi’s question on whether the First Lady wanted to report to the police.
He explained that his client does not have a problem with reporting to the police but can only do so if the warrant of arrest is set aside.
He said he knew that “she does not have a problem as I meet with her occasionally at my office”.

Advocate Setlojoane explained that the only thing keeping the First Lady from coming to court or handing herself over to the police is the manner in which the warrant of arrest was issued.
“She could have been called for hearing on issues of the warrant because she does not understand how the officials of the Commissioner of Police had applied for the issuance of the warrant,” he said.
“My client received a letter ordering her to report to the police for questioning in relation to the murder of Lipolelo Thabane,” he said, adding: “Please note that the letter reached her at 12:30pm and she was expected to be at the police station at 11:00 hours.”
“When was she going to prepare?” he asked.

Advocate Setlojoane said besides being called for questioning, the Police Commissioner had earlier withdrawn the First Couple’s police security detail.
“This act brought fear to her as it is unusual for the commissioner to just remove security from them,” he said.
He emphasised that she is ready to be interrogated.

“She indicated that if she would be interrogated in the presence of her lawyer (then) she does not have a problem to report herself at the police,” he said.
’Maesaiah was previously summoned by the police in 2018 regarding the same case of Lipolelo Thabane’s murder.
Advocate Setlojoane said he is surprised that the contents of the warrant of arrest refer to ’Maesaiah as a suspect in the murder of Lipolelo.

“We now know that the First Lady is a suspect,” he said.
“At first it was as if she was just going to be asked a few questions to cast light on some of the issues pertaining to the assassination of Lipolelo Thabane,” he said.
Justice Monaphathi asked the lawyer what he expected the police to do when they did not find ’Maesaiah, if applying for the warrant of arrest was not an option.
Advocate Setlojoane said they knew that they could find her either at the State House or at her Makhoakhoeng home.
The case continues today.

Itumeleng Khoete

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