Lesotho's Thomas Thabane. Picture: ARNOLD PRONTO
Lesotho's Thomas Thabane. Picture: ARNOLD PRONTO

Maseru — Lesotho’s prime minister has bowed to pressure to step down over evidence allegedly linking him to the murder of his estranged wife, the ruling party said on Thursday.

Senior members of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party have accused Thomas Thabane of hampering investigations into the killing. They called for his resignation last week.

In June 2017, unidentified assailants gunned down his wife, Lipolelo Thabane, on the outskirts of Lesotho’s capital Maseru, two days before her husband’s inauguration. The murder was brought back into the limelight last week by a letter from Lesotho’s police chief Holomo Molibeli.

It claimed that communication records from the day of the crime picked up Thabane’s mobile phone number. The letter — dated December 23 2019 — became public in court documents filed by Molibeli after Thabane tried to suspend him over a separate matter.

“Mr Thabane has already made known his decision to resign to the cabinet in its seating on Tuesday,” ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa told AFP on Thursday. He said the next step for the party is to appoint a replacement, who would need to be approved by parliament. “There is no exact date in place as to when Thabane shall step down but it’s going to be soon,” Masoetsa said.

Lipolelo’s murder sent shock waves through the small, poverty-stricken nation, which is ringed by SA. At the time his estranged wife was killed, Thabane had been embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, police have been unable to trace Thabane’s current wife, Maesaiah Thabane, since she failed to appear for questioning on January 10.

A court has issued a warrant for her arrest, which she unsuccessfully appealed.

Other high-profile figures have since also been summoned to provide information on the case, including the minister of water affairs and the government secretary. “Government cannot be above [the] law,” communications minister Thesele Maseribane told reporters in Maseru. “We would like to see [Maesaiah Thabane] back home and go to the courts, like everybody else.”


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