Thabane allies beg Majoro, ABC to help free ‘Maesaiah
SOME close allies of All Basotho Convention (ABC) and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane have appealed to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to ensure that the former premier’s wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane, is released from prison to take care of the ailing politician.
‘Maesaiah stands accused of the 14 June 2017 murder of her husband’s ex-wife, Lipolelo. She is currently in remand prison and has filed an application for her release on bail. She says she needs to take care of Mr Thabane who is allegedly suffering from various terminal illnesses including prostate cancer (See lead story above).
Former minister in the prime minister’s office, Leshoboro Mohlajoa, this week told the Sunday Express that he and fellow Thabane loyalists wanted ‘Maesaiah released on bail in line with an undertaking the ABC and the former governing coalition made to ensure Mr Thabane was well-taken care of after his retirement.
This was in reference to a commitment by the former four party governing coalition and other political parties on 20 April 2020 to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special envoy, Jeff Radebe, that the then Prime Minister Thabane would be allowed to retire “with grace, dignity and security”.
Mr Thabane, who was eventually forced to step down on 11 May 2020, had demanded immunity from prosecution for himself and his wife as a precondition for retiring. This was however rejected by the ABC’s NEC which said the law should be allowed to take its course.
Now with ‘Maesaiah in remand prison and fighting for her release, Mr Mohlajoa said he and other close allies of the former premier want Dr Majoro and the ABC to facilitate her release so that she can take care of Mr Thabane.
Mr Mohlajoa, who is also the ABC’ Malingoaneng constituency legislator, said they made the request at the ABC’s Wednesday caucus meeting but they had not received any answer to date. He however, did not name the others who also wanted ‘Maesaiah released on bail.
Mr Mohlajoa argued that it was global practice for governments and political parties to take care of their retired leaders. He said the Democratic Congress (DC) was taking good care of former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili after he handed over the reins to current Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu.
“In the same vein, Ntate Thabane must be taken care of,” Mr Mohlajoa said, adding jailing ‘Maesaiah when Mr Thabane needed her to care for him “was as good as killing Ntate Thabane”.
“Ntate Thabane is way past the normal life expectancy age in Lesotho and he might even die five years from now. People of his age are not jailed worldwide if they are guilty of any crime. They can be given a suspended sentence.
“As for ‘Maesaiah, we are not saying that she should not be tried but morally speaking, taking Ntate Thabane’s wife away from him now is as good as killing him because he needs round the clock assistance even on minor issues like bathing certain parts of his body. Who will assist him when his wife has been taken away?
“Our only request to the ABC as the ruling party is to ensure that ‘Maesaiah is freed from the prison to allow her to take care of Ntate Thabane. We are not saying she must not be tried but we are only saying free her for the sake of Ntate Thabane.
“We want the current prime minister (Dr Majoro) to look into this issue with a merciful eye. Allowing ‘Maesaiah to remain locked up will kill Ntate Thabane quickly because his primary caregiver has been taken away from him.”
Mr Mohlajoa said the government and the party had also promised to take over and complete the construction of Mr Thabane’s two-story house at Makhoakhoeng in his Abia constituency.
He said as ABC MPs, it was their right to be regularly briefed on the government’s progress towards fulfilling the promises to Mr Thabane.
“The government promised to take over that (construction) project and we want to know whether they are still on it or not. We also want ‘Maesaiah freed for the sake of Ntate Thabane.
“We were told that we are going to have weekly ABC parliamentary caucuses every Wednesday and we are not abandoning these issues… We will keep raising them.
“People may interpret our request whichever way they want but it is our right as ABC members of parliament to demand to know the progress that has been made by the ABC’s NEC and the government towards fulfilling the promises to Ntate Thabane.”
Another Thabane loyalist, former Small Business, Marketing and Cooperatives minister, Chalane Phori, said although he was not in the meeting where the concerns were raised, he fully supported demands for ‘Maesaiah’s release.
“I fully support that move. It is very unfair to take ‘Maesaiah away from Ntate Thabane. We are not saying that she is above the law but Ntate Thabane made history when he retired before his term and he needs to be well looked after,” Mr Phori said yesterday.
He said ‘Maesaiah deserved bail as she had cooperated with the police by handing herself to them in compliance with the revocation of her bail which was done in her absence by the Court of Appeal on 29 May 2020. He said she could have chosen to remain in South Africa to avoid arrest and jail had she so wished.
“She could have chosen not to come back after the judgement but she didn’t. It is really unfair to treat her like this. A murder charge remains a suspicion until the courts have pronounced themselves on the matter and she must therefore be released from prison.
“We are not celebrating the death of ‘M’e Lipolelo but investigations into her death have been handled in a controversial manner and it is really unfair to treat ‘M’e ‘Maesaiah in that manner,” Mr Phori said without elaborating.
Another Thabane loyalist, former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, said he had heard of an ABC meeting to request ‘Maesaiah’s release but he was not part of it.
“I heard there was such a meeting,” Mr Ntsekele said.
Asked if he supported ‘Maesaiah’s release, Mr Ntsekele said, “you always make it a point to ensure that my name pops up even when it is unnecessary”.
However, the plea for ‘Maesaiah’s release was yesterday dismissed by ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa.
Mr Masoetsa described the plea as “madness” which Dr Majoro and the NEC would not entertain as it goes against their principle of allowing justice to take its course in all cases including those involving high profile criminal suspects.
“It is not even something to discuss. As a party, we cannot associate ourselves with this matter. It is madness that we will not listen to.
“We have never promised to protect offenders. We have been categorically clear that the rule of law must prevail in our government.
“We never said we will take care of Ntate Thabane. We made an undertaking that Ntate Thabane will leave office with dignity and we honoured that promise. How he leads his life post retirement is really none of our business,” Mr Masoetsa said.
Those wanting Dr Majoro and the ABC to intervene to secure bail for the ex-first lady did not explain how that could be achieved since the bail issue is entirely a legal process and a decision of the courts. The prime minister nor any other person cannot legally intervene in such a process. It is not clear how they are expected to achieve such a feat by Messrs Mohlajoa and Phori.