Thabane terminally ill, needs me: ‘Maesaiah
- ex-premier will “most definitely die if I am not released to care for him….”
FORMER Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is said to be on the verge of death as he is suffering from prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and incontinence among other illnesses.
The ex-premier’ medical condition is disclosed by his wife, ‘Maesaiah, in her latest bail application filed after she was jailed last Wednesday. This following a Constitutional Court ruling that she had been irregularly granted bail after her initial February 2020 arraignment on charges that she masterminded the killing of Mr Thabane’s ex-wife, Lipolelo.
‘Maesaiah said Mr Thabane was hovering “between life and death” and desperately needed her round the clock. Only her, as the wife, could cater for the husband and not any other relatives, she claimed.
‘Maesaiah stands accused of the 14 June 2017 murder of Lipolelo due to her alleged impatience to assume the reigns of First Lady. She has also been charged with the attempted murder of Thato Sibolla, with whom Lipolelo had been travelling, when she was gunned down in cold blood at Ha-’Masana, Maseru. Ms Sibolla sustained some injuries in the incident. Mr Thabane faces the same charges but it is not clear when he will appear in court alongside his wife. He had originally claimed immunity from prosecution as a sitting premier when he first appeared in court in March. But since his ousting last month, he can no longer rely on that argument. He is yet to appear in court again.
‘Maesaiah’s fresh bail application will be heard on Tuesday. She is currently in custody after being sent to remand prison on Wednesday. This after the Court of Appeal revoked an earlier 5 February 2020 decision to grant her bail by Acting Chief Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase.
The apex court ruled that Justice Mahase granted ‘Maesaiah bail without following proper procedures and without consideration for the seriousness of the crimes she is charged with. The apex court noted the bail was granted without factoring the character of the controversial ex-first lady and the possibility that she could interfere and even kill witnesses.
The apex court’s 29 May 2020 ruling was handed down out after Ms Sibolla teamed up with Mr Thabane’s grandson, Thomas Thabane Jr and the former premier’s two nephews, Khauhelo Molapo and Thuto Makhooane, to challenge Justice Mahase’s decision.
Justice Mahase, Ms Thabane, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, Attorney General Advocate Haae Phoofolo and Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli were the first to fifth respondents respectively in the apex court application.
The appeal was heard on 20 May 2020 by Justices Johann Van der Westhuizen (from South Africa), Petrus Damaseb (Namibia) and Moses Chinhengo (Zimbabwe).
In setting aside the bail, the apex court ruled that the High Court should hear ‘Maesaiah’s bail application afresh under a different judge and not Justice Mahase.
In her latest bail application, ‘Maesaiah denies killing Lipolelo or taking part in her murder saying she was at her home all the time on the day of the gruesome murder.
She pleads with the High Court to release her so that she can provide care for Mr Thabane who she says is terminally ill and is deteriorating “rapidly every day”.
She says she has a “grave fear” that unless closely looked after around the clock, Mr Thabane “will most definitely die”.
Such care cannot be provided by anyone else, not even his children, but only a wife, she claims. She says she cannot disclose more details of the care Mr Thabane requires as these are of such a personal and private nature that they cannot be spelt out in public court documents.
“Your petitioner should disclose at this stage that the health of her spouse (Mr Thabane) has been deteriorating at an alarming rate in the recent past,” ‘Maesaiah states.
“The petitioner’s husband who is the former prime minister of Lesotho, now about 82 years old is critically ill. Your petitioner’s husband has since been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in respect of which he underwent an operation at Medi-Clinic, Bloemfontein, on Friday 29 May 2020 and he is due back for assessment and further treatments on Tuesday 9 June 2020.
“He has been in and out of hospital with a condition that has shown no improvement but rather deteriorates rapidly every day. For instance, between the beginning of May (2020) and now, she has been to his doctors in Bloemfontein five times. There is a grave fear that unless closely and well looked after on a minute basis, he will most definitely die.
“Furthermore, your petitioner’s husband has been diagnosed with an advanced dementia coupled with inconsistence and Alzheimer’s disease which have put his life at stake. He requires his wife and not just any other person or relative for obvious reasons, to be physically with him around the clock. He needs constant attention all day and night.
He needs personal assistance all of which are of private and sensitive nature. He takes on average no less than 12 prescribed tablets of different types daily. There is no way in which he will be able to administer on himself this medication in the condition in which he is.
“He (Thabane) has to be assisted to do all activities of nature due to his acute incontinence. In the premise the petitioner’s husband is between life and death and cannot pull through should the petitioner not be around him all the time. He is clearly in his last and most delicate days requiring personal and constant respectful attention.”
‘Maesaiah also states that on the day the apex court revoked her bail, she had taken Mr Thabane to Bloemfontein for the prostate cancer operation hence why she could not be arrested and sent to prison the same day. She says she returned on 3 June 2020 and immediately surrendered herself to the police who subsequently took her to the Maseru Magistrates’ Court where she was remanded in custody in the female section of the Maseru Central Prison.
She cites her voluntary return and surrender to the police as evidence that she will not abscond if granted the bail she says is necessary to enable her to care for her “terminally ill” husband.
“Your petitioner reiterates that 29 May 2020 was the date for the said prostate cancer operation which date had been squeezed as it could not be done later than that, due to the stage at which the cancer was without risking loss of life. For this reason, your petitioner and her husband were on that date in Bloemfontein all having been arranged by and between the government of Lesotho and the South African Embassy in Maseru.
“After the operation and for the days that followed until 2 June 2020, your petitioner had to be close by her husband in order attend to daily dressing and to be closer to the hospital in case of emergency. It is for this reason that we only came back to Lesotho on 3 June when his health had stabilised a little bit. On arrival your petitioner immediately went straight to police headquarters where she surrendered herself pursuant to the Court of Appeal judgement (which set aside the 5 February bail).
“Your petitioner verily avers that in the circumstances set herein and on particular the condition of her about 82-year-old husband, with complicated sickness referred to, it is in the best interest of justice that she be admitted to bail thus saving her husband’s life which is at stake while also ensuring that she stands trial and does not interfere with witnesses as she has already demonstrated her reliability in this regard.
“Your petitioner is thus desirous of being admitted to bail on the following conditions: that she pays bail deposit in the sum of M10 000, that she attends remands and stands trial, and that she reports at police headquarters every fortnight and she notifies the police whenever she travels beyond the borders of Lesotho and that she does not interfere with crown witnesses or any such other and further conditions as the court may impose. She vows to abide by all such conditions.
“Your petitioner can say with certainty that no other person other than his or her spouse may cope with a patient suffering from the range of sickness referred to, as they require personal and delicate attention which the court will hopefully understand without being spelled out in these documents which are public. Surely this person (Mr Thabane) still deserves some privacy and respect,” ‘Maesaiah states.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate causing death. The disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioural and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently.
‘Maesaiah’s revelations come against the background of constant public speculation about Mr Thabane’s health. The former premier was forced to quit on 11 May 2020 after his own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party withdrew from its coalition agreement with the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL).
The ABC subsequently formed a new coalition with the Democratic Congress (DC) and several other smaller parties. Former Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro was on 20 May 2020 appointed prime minister in place of Mr Thabane with DC leader Mathibeli Mokhothu as his deputy.
The ABC had agitated for Mr Thabane’s departure on the grounds that it would be improper for him to continue after being named as a suspect in Lipolelo’s murder. Various ABC officials also said his health was failing and he had to be replaced by a younger person at the helm of both government and party.
Ironically, ‘Maesaiah who is now talking up Mr Thabane’s health, initially ignored an impassioned plea by the former premier’s daughter, Adv ‘Mabat?oeneng Hlaele, to allow him to step down on account of his advanced age and failing health.
In an interview on a local radio station last November, an emotional Adv Hlaele, nee Nkoea Thabane, said it was time for her father to step down as he had now become a parody of his former vibrant self and was merely being used by selfish people who benefited from having his official signature on government documents.
“I am not a medical doctor but I think there are things happening that are beyond his control because of his medical condition,” Adv Hlaele said at the time.
She even said that God would punish those who forced him to remain in office for their own selfish ends.