The wife of Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Maesaiah, is set to go on trial on February 18 after she was charged with the murder of the Prime Minister’s former wife, Lipolelo, a magistrate said on Wednesday.
The killing occurred two days before the Prime Minister’s inauguration for a second term, and two years after a court ruled that the deceased, Lipolelo, was the lawful first lady and entitled to benefits.
Maesaiah was also charged for the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla, a friend of Lipolelo who was wounded at the scene.
Maesaiah arrived in court amidst heavy security and faced the magistrate before being taken into custody, according to an account by a Reuters reporter. The Prime Minister did not attend the hearing.
Maesaiah was subsequently released on a 1,000 maloti ($67) bail.
According to the charge sheet, Maesaiah “did unlawfully and with intent to kill fire a gunshot at one Thabane Lipolelo and inflicted on her gunshot wounds”.
A warrant of arrest was issued against Maesaiah on January 10 after she did not present herself for questioning in connection with the murder and fled to neighbouring South Africa. She returned to the country on Tuesday afternoon and surrendered to the police in the capital Maseru.
Thabane and Maesaiah got married two months after Lipolelo was shot dead by an unknown assailant near her home in Maseru two days before he was due to be sworn in. Thabane and Lipolelo were in the middle of a bitter divorce and her killing was suspected to be a political assassination.
Thabane also announced last month that he planned to step down after senior members of the ruling party accused him of frustrating investigations into the murder. He, however, did not specify when he would resign.
Two weeks ago police questioned Thabane over the alleged use of his mobile phone to communicate with whoever was at the scene of the killing.