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PM Thabane’s family at war

  • leaked audio reveals bitter feud between Thabane and daughter
  • premier’s daughter accuses First Lady of murder

Pascalinah Kabi

PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane’s daughter, Advocate ‘Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, allegedly attacked her father and his wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, accusing them of meddling in her marriage to All Basotho Convention (ABC) secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele.

In an astonishing tirade captured in a leaked audio clip of her recorded audio message to a relative, Selimo Thabane, Adv Hlaele is also heard suggesting that the First Lady had a hand in the murder of Dr Thabane’s former wife, Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017.

Although the audio was leaked on Friday, it appears to have been recorded in July 2019, shortly after Dr Thabane addressed a rally in Qeme and hit out at Adv Hlaele for taking up the cudgels on behalf of the premier’s antagonist, Professor Nqosa Mahao in the battle for control of the ABC.

The premier also tore into his son-in-law, Mr Hlaele, suggesting that he had only entered into a loveless marriage of convenience with his daughter so that he could one day take over the ABC.

Ms Thabane refused to comment on the sensational allegations contained in the leaked audio when the Sunday Express contacted her on Friday. All she said was “no, no,” before hanging up when this publication called her for comment. Yesterday, Selimo, a prominent musician, told the Sunday Express that, “I don’t want to be part of that audio at all. I just want to sing”.

Adv Hlaele also refused to speak about the audio when this publication contacted her for comment. She refused to comment, saying she was out of town.

Her attacks on Dr Thabane and Ms Thabane in the audio appear to have been in retaliation to Dr Thabane’s attacks on her and her husband when he addressed an ABC rally in Qeme in July 2019.

At that rally, Dr Thabane attacked his lawyer daughter for fighting in her husband and Prof Mahao’s corner in the legal battles that have ensued as a result of Dr Thabane and Prof Mahao’s battle for the control of the ABC.

A livid Dr Thabane said Adv Hlaele would regret her decision to side with his antagonists. He also questioned the genuineness of Mr Hlaele’s love for his daughter, suggesting that the he had only married her to be in close proximity to power and influence. Adv Hlaele is the daughter of Dr Thabane’s first wife, ‘Matoka Yayi Thabane, who was found dead at her Katlehong home in 2017 after battling various chronic illnesses including arthritis.

“There is this young man (Mr Hlaele) who is spreading the propaganda that he is my son in law,” the fiery Dr Thabane said.

“Does he even love my daughter? His actions do not show (love). But you, my daughter, you will remember me. I am still your father.

“I did not form the ABC for sons-in-law. I formed it for Basotho. I did not know that Hlaele married my daughter because he wanted to inherit this party,” Dr Thabane said.

In the aftermath of the rally, Mr Hlaele angrily warned Dr Thabane to stay out of his marriage. “I am not in love with Ntate Thabane. I did not ask permission from him to love or marry his daughter. It is a matter between two people. If I do not love her, she would have said it. No one else has the right or qualification to interfere in people’s love affairs. Their opinion would be baseless,” a furious Mr Hlaele said.

He also said that Dr Thabane was wrong to think he (Mr Hlaele) married his daughter to “inherit” the ABC. He said he did not need Dr Thabane’s endorsement to ascend to any position within the party, adding all that was required was hard work and support from party members.

At the time, Adv Hlaele was very diplomatic when this publication asked to comment on her father’s attacks on her and her husband. She only chose to say that she had not attended the Qeme rally and therefore “I don’t have anything to say about issues discussed there”.

But beneath that veneer of diplomacy, it appears Adv Hlaele was seething with anger and subsequently contacted her cousin, Selimo Thabane to vent her fury.

In the audio, Adv Hlaele begins by greeting Selimo and says, “As you can tell it is around midnight, I just had my prayer”.

“I listened to the clip of Ntate Thabane when he was at the Qeme rally. Maybe I listened to it because I knew what he was going to say even before he said it,” Adv Hlaele said.

Adv Hlaele pleaded with Selimo to play the recorded audio clip to Dr Thabane and the First Lady and ask them to stay out of her marriage. She also accused Ms Thabane of killing Dr Thabane’s second wife, Lipolelo Thabane, in June 2017.

Ms Thabane was shot dead by an unknown assailant as she was about to drive into her Ha ‘Masana home on 14 June 2017. The incident occurred just two days before Dr Thabane’s inauguration as prime minister.

A female companion of Ms Thabane also sustained serious injuries in the shooting.

Commenting on the police investigations into Lipolelo’s murder last December, Foreign Affairs Minister Lesego Makgothi said “as far as the case of former First Lady is concerned, the trail leading towards it has gone cold”.

“The police have devised other means of speeding up the process.  However, cabinet was assured that it is still in the priority list of murder cases that are being investigated by the LMPS,” added Mr Makgothi who was part of a government delegation which had earlier told SADC leaders that the case was among the high profile crimes which was being investigated by the police.

But in the leaked audio, Adv Hlaele suggested that the First Lady was behind the murder.

“I want you to tell them (Dr Thabane and Ms Thabane) that between me and Ntate Thabane, one of us is married to a murderer and I am not the one who is married to a murderer. I was not told about the docket of ‘M’e Lipolelo but I read the contents of that (murder) docket,” Adv Hlaele says in the audio.

She said she had evidence that Ms Thabane organised Ms Lipolelo’s assassination by enlisting the services of a prominent famo musician. She claimed that Ms Thabane even promised the musician a job at one of the parastatals as reward for successfully executing the job.

Adv Hlaele said she could give the evidence to the police to prove that Ms Thabane organised a hit on Ms Lipolelo.

“I know the connection. I know a lot of things. I request that this woman respects my marriage. I have never publicly meddled in her marriage and my husband (Mr Hlaele) has not publicly meddled in her marriage.

“I ask ‘M’e (Ms Thabane) to respect me because I have respected her. She is much younger than me but I have respected her from the day she started dating Tom (Thabane) until now. I ask that she stays out of my marriage because no one died for me to get married.

“We know that Ntate Thabane’s speeches are written for him and I know that (Water Minister Samonyane) Ntsekele wrote it (the Qeme rally speech). I even know the names of the people that he (Ntsekele) called asking for input into the speech. ‘M’e (Ms Thabane) and Ntsekele should stop doing this. They use Ntate Thabane and we have been quiet for far too long.”

Adv Hlaele also accused Ms Thabane of consulting Durban witchdoctors in the run-up to the ABC’s hotly disputed February 2019 elective conference which ushered in Prof Mahao as the deputy leader and her husband, Mr Hlaele as the party secretary general.

Prof Mahao’s election was subsequently rejected by Dr Thabane and some members of the old national executive committee (NEC) on the grounds that Prof Mahao was a political upstart who should not have been elected ahead of more senior party stalwarts.

Mr Hlaele paid the ultimate price for supporting Prof Mahao by being booted out of his Law and Constitutional affairs cabinet portfolio in February. In addition, Dr Thabane “expelled” Mr Hlaele from the ABC along with Prof Mahao, Samuel Rapapa (chairperson), spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa and Matebatso Doti (deputy spokesperson) in June 2019.The quintet has challenged their expulsions in the High Court which is still to finalise the matter.

And in the audio, Adv Hlaele alleges Ms Thabane performed some rituals in the hope that former ABC deputy leader, Prince Maliehe, would win the post ahead of Prof Mahao and the other contestants, Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro and Social Development Minister, Motlohi Maliehe.

She said that she was fully informed of everything which transpired at the state house residence of Dr Thabane and his wife but had chosen not to speak about it out of respect for Dr Thabane. She however, warned that she would spill the beans if her father allowed himself to be used by Ms Thabane and Mr Ntsekele.

“I have made this audio so that if I die, because Liabiloe (Ms Thabane) kills, it will not be a secret. She (Ms Thabane) killed Ausi Lipolelo. Tell her I said that I said you should play this clip for her. The police know this. Their silence has been bought. She should ask them if four of them (police officers) did not come to my office. She should not start with me because she will go to jail,” Adv Hlaele says in the audio.

“I request that ‘M’e (Ms Thabane) stops messing with my marriage. And Selimo, if you think she (Ms Thabane) is mad, I am madder than her. I will be madder than her because I will be mad with facts. I request that Ntate Thabane apologises. Yes he must apologise.

Ntate Hlaele has never insulted Ntate Thabane. He has never mocked him about his marriage, an embarrassing marriage. Ntate Selimo, if you are afraid to tell her, I will tell her on a radio. Please, I am angry,” Adv Hlaele says in the audio.

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