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Fresh war rocks Thabane family

  • as Nkoya fights Thabane, ‘Maesaiah over Lipolelo’s estate

Pascalinah Kabi / Mohalenyane Phakela

A FRESH war has erupted in former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s family.

On one side is the former premier’s estranged daughter, Advocate ‘Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, who accuses Mr Thabane and his current wife, ‘Maesaiah, of illegally benefitting from the estate of Mr Thabane’s slain ex-wife, Lipolelo, at the expense of their (Mr Thabane and Lipolelo’s) adopted children.

Adv Hlaele, nee Nkoya Thabane, alleges that this has prejudiced the two children, one of them a minor and the other a 32-year-old man who is mentally handicapped.

Nkoya has since filed a High Court application for an order to stop Mr Thabane and ‘Maesaiah from “illegally” benefitting from the estate of her late step-mother. The application was filed this week but has not been allocated a date of hearing.

She claims that after Lipolelo’s 14 June 2017 murder, allegedly by Mr Thabane and ‘Maesaiah, the couple has taken over Lipolelo and Mr Thabane’s joint estate and are even selling off some of the properties thereby prejudicing Lipolelo and Mr Thabane’s adopted children, Regina Retšelisitsoe Thabane and Kekeletso Joseph Thabane.

Nkoya says she is the legal guardian of Regina, a minor aged 17 but just a month shy of attaining the legal age of majority. Kekeletso is 32 but is said to suffer from autism.

Nkoya wants the High Court to issue an interim order interdicting ‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane from “transferring and or transacting over any sale of land rights and interest in respect of immovable properties registered in their (Lipolelo and Mr Thabane’s) names with the Land Administration Authority (LAA) pending finalisation of this matter”.

She wants the LAA to be ordered to provide all the records of the land registered in the names of ‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane pending the finalisation of her application.

She also wants the court to order the Minister of Social Development, ‘Matebatso Doti, to order social to assess Regina Thabane and present a report within 14 days of the order. She also wants the court to grant her interim custody of Regina pending finalisation of this matter.”

In terms of final relief, she wants an order declaring that “all properties (movable and or immovable) registered in the names of ‘Maesaiah Thabane and Thomas Motsoahae Thabane and which were acquired and or allocated prior to their marriage do not form part of their joint estate but that of Thomas Motsoahae Thabane and the late Lipolelo Thabane”.

She also wants the court to compel Mr Thabane to forfeit a quarter of Lipolelo’s estate to Regina and Kekeletso.

The Thabane couple is accused of murdering Lipolelo on 14 June 2017. ‘Maesaiah initially appeared in court over the murder charges on 5 February 2020. She was granted M10 000 bail on Monday by High Court Judge Thamsanqa Nomngcongo. This despite strong opposition from Nkoya who argued that she was a cold-blooded murderer who could yet kill her and other witnesses.

Mr Thabane is yet to appear alongside his wife amid indications by Deputy Police Commissioner Paseka Mokete that he will be arrested anytime soon to facilitate his trial.

The Thabane couple is accused of killing Lipolelo to stop her from assuming the post of first lady and attendant benefits upon Mr Thabane’s June 2017 return to power. He was inaugurated just two days after the brutal murder. At the time of her death, her divorce from Mr Thabane had not gone through thus making her the legitimate first lady.

Nkoya now alleges that after usurping Lipolelo’s position, ‘Maesaiah is illegally benefitting from her estate at the expense of Lipolelo and Mr Thabane’s adopted children.

In her petition, Nkoya even accuses the Thabane couple of selling off Lipolelo’s property at a “swift pace”. She expresses fears that there will not be anything left for Regina and Kekeletso if the Thabanes are not interdicted by the court.

Mr Kuili Ndebele, the  Lipolelo estate’s legal overseer, is a co-applicant in the case.

‘Maesaiah, Mr Thabane, the Master of High Court, the Attorney General (Haae Phoofolo), Toka Thabane, Potlako Thabane, Pulane Borotho nee Thabane, The Land Administration Authority (LAA) and the Minister of Social Welfare are the first to ninth respondents respectively.

Messrs Toka and Potlako as well as Pulane are Nkoya’s siblings from Mr Thabane’s first marriage to ‘Matoka Yayi Thabane who died in 2017. Nkoya is already involved in a bitter spat with Potlako after they differed over the murder-accused ‘Maesaiah’s bail application. Whereas Nkoya opposed the application, Potlako supported ‘Maesaiah saying she was loving wife who had to be freed to look after her ailing husband.

Nkoya states that Mr Thabane and Lipolelo’s adopted children started suffering after her father married ‘Maesaiah in August 2017.

“Apart from the adoption of the minor child, Retšelisitsoe Regina Thabane, I wish to take the court into my confidence and assert that my biological sister, Pulane Thabane (seventh respondent) herewith, also gave her consent for the adoption of her son (Kekeletso) who is mentally handicapped to Thomas Motsoahae Thabane and the said boy went through the processes leading to his formal adoption,” Nkoya states in her court papers.

“This child (Kekeletso) is going through a very turbulent medical condition (autism) which affects his mental capacity. What is of crucial importance is the fact that this child was all along living with my father but when the first respondent (‘Maesaiah) came over, he (Mr Thabane) became less inclined towards this child and a year ago the child was returned to the biological parents at her (‘Maesaiah’s) behest after she stated that she could not cope.

“Even worse, Regina Retšelisitsoe Thabane was disenrolled from a decent school in South Africa and taken to a local high school on grounds that the former school was too expensive. I am highlighting these facts to illustrate that the adopted children were being given a raw deal notwithstanding the fact that first and second respondent (Mr Thabane and ‘Maesaiah) were benefitting irregularly if not illegally from the estate of their late mother.

“I wish to take this court into my confidence and assert that regrettably, Regina is in the custody of the first and second respondents and her rights to her share of the estate of Lipolelo Alice Thabane remain prejudiced. The same applies with respect to the other incapacitated child, Kekeletso. Even worse, Regina resides in the same house as the first and second respondents.”

Nkoya further alleges that despite being the legal guardian of Regina, she has been denied access to the child. She says Regina has also told her that she is banned from communicating with her. She says all this is happening at a time when Mr Thabane is incapable of taking care of the children because of his own illness. As a result of the ban, she says has been forced to secretly communicate with Regina via text messages.

“…(In) a sworn statement in the first respondent (‘Maesaiah)’s application for bail over the charge of murder… she openly states that the second respondent (Mr Thabane) is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. A person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease does not have the requisite capacity to administer the affairs of his estate.

“It is accepted medically and cannot be disputed that both Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer which the second respondent is said to be experiencing or suffering from affects his capacity to look after the children.”

Nkoya also says that it cannot be right for Lipolelo’s children to live with ‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane who are accused of murdering their mother.

“…I am apprehensive that the psychological state of affairs that this situation (of Regina living with ‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane) may bear on her as a young teenager…

“I have engaged in secret communications with her via text messages and she advised me that she is not allowed to speak to me and that she is living under a very unhealthy environment where the children of the first respondent make her life intolerable.

“These allegations are so serious and they pose a serious threat to her well-being and for that reason I urge the court to grant this application. That will be for the sole interest of this minor child and it is clearly without prejudice to the rights of either the first or second respondent…Only a qualified social worker can make a determination of what is in the best interest of the minor child.

“There is clearly a reasonable apprehension that regard being to the circumstances surrounding the interests of the adopted children, there is a high potential of their interests being affected. I endeavoured to go and get the minor, Regina, armed with the letters of guardianship and accompanied by the law enforcement officers but was denied access to her by fifth and sixth respondents (Toka and Potlako). I am apprehensive that she (Regina) is likely to be subjected to emotional turmoil given the fact that the first respondent (‘Maesaiah) is the instrumental person in the (Thabane) household and she has just been released from jail.”

Nkoya also alleges that ‘Maesaiah unilaterally controls Mr Thabane’s estate and Lipolelo’s children consequently stand to suffer irreparable harm if that state of affairs is allowed to continue.

“…The first respondent (‘Maesaiah) unilaterally administers the affairs of the estate of Thomas Motsoahae Thabane Snr. She has even assumed control of assets acquired during the lifetime of the late Lipolelo Alice Thabane who was married in community of property to Thomas Motsoahae Thabane Snr. There was no notice of death and let alone administration of the estate and this application serves to remedy those legal issues with the sole purpose of salvaging the interests of the adopted children…

“The turn of events leading to the marriage of the first and second respondent clearly show that there was a never a time when there was an inventory done over the entire estate that had been acquired by the deceased Lipolelo and Thomas Thabane.

“The first respondent (‘Maesaiah) assumed control and overall administration over the entire estate without any reservations and this is the current state of affairs. A majority of immovable properties which had been allocated to the late Lipolelo and Thomas Motsoahae Thabane are now registered in their (‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane’s) names. There was no proper demarcation made to the extent of the limitation of first respondent (‘Maesaiah’s) rights of ownership stemming from her marriage to the man whose late wife’s estate had never been administered in terms of the law. I endeavoured to save the situation on account of my proximity to the family issues and reported the issue to the office of the Master of the High Court.

“There is a potential that the first and second respondents may have endeavoured to be bequeath property that they have no capacity to otherwise bequeath given the fact that there was no formal administration of the estate of the late Lipolelo prior to their marriage.

“There is a dire and most necessary need to have the first and second respondent interdicted in order to salvage the interests of the adopted minor children. Beyond that and perhaps significantly, it remains highly likely that the second respondent (Mr Thabane) does not have the capacity to contract and let alone administer the affairs of his estate given the fact that the first respondent herself has stated as a matter of public record that he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

She also claimed that ‘Maesaiah has started selling some of the property jointly acquired by Mr Thabane and Lipolelo thereby prejudicing the children.

“I wish to take the court into my confidence and state that I have since learnt that several properties which are registered in the names of the first and second respondents are being sold at a swift pace to give a reasonable impression that what is being sought is to prejudice the interests of the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Lipolelo Thabane. There must be urgent interventions to protect the interests of the vulnerable adopted children.”

Therefore, Nkoya wants the High Court to stop ‘Maesaiah and Mr Thabane from selling any of the land and other properties jointly acquired by Mr Thabane and Lipolelo.

She wants ‘Maesaiah’s name to be expunged from all LAA documents in respect of the property acquired by Lipolelo and Mr Thabane.

She also wants to be awarded custody over Regina “and or any alternative remedy or remedies be made by this court in respect of what is in the best interests of Regina”. (See story below on the properties allegedly sold by the Thabane couple).

 

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