GULSHAN KHAN / AFP
Lesotho police on Saturday said they would wait for the prime minister’s return from “sick leave” to resume a court case in which he is suspected of murdering his estranged wife.
Thomas Thabane, 80, is accused of having acted in “common purpose” in the June 2017 killing of 58-year old Lipolelo Thabane, whom he was divorcing.
He had been due in court for a preliminary appearance on Friday, where he was expected to be formally charged.
But the prime minister traveled instead to neighbouring South Africa for health reasons, prompting police to warn they could issue an arrest warrant.
Deputy Police Commissioner Palesa Mokete, however, said Thabane’s lawyers had sent him a “sick leave note” claiming the premier would be “unfit” until February 27.
“While we admit that is quite coincidental, we shall have our own means to ascertain this state of affairs,” Mokete told AFP on Saturday, adding that he had “no reason to doubt” the document.
He said no arrest warrant has been issued as yet and that “new arrangements” would be made for Thabane once he was “fit for an appearance”.
Lipolelo Thabane’s murder sent shock waves through Lesotho — a tiny landlocked nation of 2.2 million that has a long history of political turmoil.
She was gunned down outside her home in the capital Maseru just two days before her husband took office.
The accusations against the prime minister came after communications records from the scene of the murder included Thabane’s mobile phone number.
His current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, whom he married two months after Lipolelo’s death, is considered a co-conspirator and has already been charged with murder.
The premier has faced pressure to resign by senior party officials, who accused him of hampering investigations into the killing.
He announced earlier this week that he would step down on July 31.
In his inaugural speech, Thabane had described his wife’s murder as a “senseless killing”. He and Maesaiah — who at the time had the status of a “customary wife” — both attended Lipolelo’s funeral.