3 March 2018

Lesotho: SR Leader Quizzed Over Lipolelo Thabane's Slaying

The leader of the newly-formed Socialist Revolution (SR) party, Teboho Mojapela, has accused the police of "waylaying" him to "unnecessarily" grill him over the murder of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane's former wife, Lipolelo Thabane.

Mr Mojapela said he had been "waylaid" by two police officers soon after he had finished addressing a press conference at the AME Hall in Maseru. He had called the press briefing to inform the world about the recent shooting of one of his security officers, Potlako Nalane. The two officers then started quizzing him about the slaying of Mrs Thabane.

Mr Mojapela said he could not understand why the police were again questioning him about the June 2017 shooting which claimed the life of Ms Thabane as he had already spoken to one of the investigating officers in the matter and volunteered the information he knew about the murder.

"I am very angry that they waylaid me when I have already told them all that I know about the case... ," Mr Mojapela told the Lesotho Times this week.

"I was first assigned a police officer to talk to in good faith over the issue. They needed me to assist with some information that could possibly help resolve the murder.

"I don't know what else they want to know when I have already given them my side of the story... .. What they did in waylaying me was very undemocratic when they claim to have ushered a dispensation that purports to respect human rights."

Police spokesperson, Inspector Mpiti Mopeli, said Mr Mojapela had been called in for questioning over the murder but denied that he had been waylaid. He said the police officers that confronted Mr Mojapela did so to ask him to merely report to the police to be questioned about the case. Inspector Mopeli said Mr Mojapela was due to report for questioning tomorrow.

He nonetheless emphasized that Mr Mojapela was not a "person of interest" in the murder investigation but refused to say why he was being quizzed if that was the case. He said that police investigations were continuing and so far no arrests had been made.

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. Mr Mojapela did not explain what he had already told the police about the murder. However, it is understood that Mr Mojapela had already named before the police the two suspects he claims to have masterminded the murder.

Meanwhile Mr Mojapela's bodyguard, Potlako Nalane, is lucky to be alive after he was shot at by unknown gunmen upon his arrival at his Masowe home in Maseru on Sunday night.

Mr Nalane had just returned home from Mr Mojapela's residence in Ladybrand in South Africa when the gunmen who had parked outside his house opened fire at his car.

"It was around 11.00 pm on Sunday when some gunmen in a twin cab vehicle opened fire on me at my house.

"I jumped out of the car and ran for dear life. I got to Thetsane Police Station after being given a lift by a Good Samaritan.

"I am very grateful to the Lord for having protected me but I am still shaken as I don't know who is after me and I don't even know when they will strike again," Nalane said.

He said he believed that his assailants wanted him out of the picture so that they could easily get to MrMojapela.

He said although he appealed to the government to provide him with security, he doubted if this would happen as the police had visited him to demand firearm licences instead of helping him.

Mr Mojapela said the attack on Mr Nalane was meant to scare him into abandoning his political ambitions. He however, said he would not be deterred, vowing that "for me the sky is the limit".


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