Johannesburg – Lesotho’s former prime minister Thomas Thabane was charged on Tuesday with the brutal murder of his estranged wife Lipolelo.
Thabane, 82, is accused of hiring hitmen to kill Lipolelo in June 2017, two days before the prime minister’s inauguration.
He appeared in the High Court boardroom in Maseru on Tuesday – not in the courtroom as normal practice would dictate.
Reading out the charges, High Court clerk Tebello Mokhoema said Thabane “did unlawfully and intentionally cause the death of Lipolelo Thabane” on June 14, 2017.
Five co-defendants in the trial include Thabane’s young wife Maesaiah, who was controversially granted bail in June.
Bitter divorce proceedings
The other four are suspected hitmen allegedly hired by Thabane and Maesaiah to kill Lipolelo Thabane, 58.
Lipolelo and Thomas Thabane had been embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings.
The murder sparked a political crisis in the mountain kingdom landlocked within South Africa.
Police have accused Thabane of paying assassins a down payment of $24,000 to kill his wife.
Thabane resigned as prime minister in May 2020, giving in to then mounting pressure to step down over the murder charges.
Both the former premier and his current wife – whom he married two months after Lipolelo was killed – have denied any involvement in the murder.
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