Lesotho in shock after murder-accused first lady granted bail

Maesiah Thabane is accused of ordering the murder of the second wife of her husband, Prime Minister Tom Thabane, in 2017.

FILE: Lesotho prime Minister Thomas Thabane (L), leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) political party, his wife 'Ma Isaiah Ramoholi Thabane and Zambian President Edgar Lungu (R) attend Thabane's inauguration on June 16, 2017 in Maseru. Lesotho's new prime minister took office at the head of a coalition government, three years after he was targeted by a putsch and two days after the murder of his estranged wife. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Basotho have reacted with shock after the kingdom’s first lady was granted bail but the attention has also turned to the acting Chief Justice Maseforo Mahase who freed her for now.

Maesiah Thabane is accused of ordering the murder of Lipolelo, the second wife of her husband, Prime Minister Tom Thabane, in 2017.

Lipolelo’s friend survived the shooting.

Police tried to oppose bail when Thabane made her first court appearance on Wednesday, arguing that she was a flight risk since she had fled to South Africa before her arrest.

Thabane’s bail has raised questions about whether she is being favoured by those with access to power.

Mahase, who presided over the case, is already mired in controversy.

Prime Minister Thabane tried to appoint her permanently but this was challenged by the secretary-general of Thabane’s All Basotho Convention party, Lebohang Hlaele.

Hlaele said that Mahase had an ongoing case of judicial misconduct. He’s also accusing her of blatantly taking sides when party factions were battling it out in court.

Meanwhile, Basotho have not held back on the latest developments.

Many have taken to social media to say they were not surprised that Mahase granted the first lady bail, going against how previous matters involving fugitives were handled.

Thabane is expected back in court just over two weeks' time.

Meanwhile, police have still not charged the seven other suspects in the matter.