FORMER Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's children have gone to war over their step-mother 'Maesaiah.
Mr Thabane's eldest son Potlako has thrown his lot with him and strongly fought for the release of his father's wife 'Maesaiah from jail while his direct sibling Advocate Mabatṧoeneng Hlaele (nee Nkoya Thabane) is having none of it.
In a previously unseen affidavit filed in support of her stepmother, Potlako, launches withering criticism at her sister, labelling her a liar and accusing her of having abandoned their father and wanting him dead.
He makes the case for 'Maesaiah to be released on bail and care for his father whom he says could die "within a matter of days" without the former First-Lady's care. But Nkoya insists all this is being contrived to create an escape route for 'Maesaiah. She wants her to rot in jail because she is a "dangerous" woman who will not hesitate to kill to protect her interests.
Potlako and Nkoya are the offspring of Mr Thabane's first wife, 'Matoka Yayi Thabane, who died from an undisclosed illness in 2017. Incidentally, this is the same year that Mr Thabane's second wife, Lipolelo, was gunned down, allegedly at the instigation of Mr Thabane and 'Maesaiah, his third wife, to pave way for the latter to become First Lady.
'Maesaiah has been in jail since 3 June 2020 after the Court of Appeal revoked her bail and ordered it heard afresh by a judge other than Acting Chief Justice 'Maseforo Mahase, who had irregularly approved her first bail bid.
Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo has since heard the new bail application and is due to pass judgment tomorrow, having postponed it from Monday due to ill-health.
But the affidavits filed by the Thabane children in the bail application exemplify a family at an ever-escalating war.
While Nkoya paints 'Maesaiah as a devil incarnate who should rot in jail to save witnesses - including herself - from being murdered, Potlako pleads with the court to release her, saying 'Maesaiah is the archetypal stoic wife who lovingly bears all burdens without asking for anything in return. He argues she deserves bail to enable her to look after her husband whose health has deteriorated since 'Maesaiah was sent to remand prison.
Potlako claims that in 'Maesaiah's absence, Mr Thabane has become a "mental wreck" and could die "within a matter of days" if his wife is not released to care for him.
Potlako attacks her sister for being blinded by her "intense hatred" of 'Maesaiah because she believes the latter orchestrated the dismissal of her husband, Lebohang Hlaele, from cabinet in February 2019. Mr Hlaele served as Law and Constitutional Affairs minister before he was fired by Mr Thabane for supporting Professor Nqosa Mahao for the deputy leadership of the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
'Maesaiah has staked her fresh bid for bail on Mr Thabane's health and his need for spousal care. She has claimed her husband is terminally ill from prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease and is hovering "between life and death" in claims supported by Potlako.
But Nkoya has dismissed all those reasons as a ruse for a free ticket out of jail for 'Maesaiah. Nkoya says 'Maesaiah is not the only one capable of looking after her father, saying she married him when he was already old and had other people looking after him.
"The petitioner met my father in the very late stages of his age. All along, I have been providing the requisite care and comfort for my father and it is both insulting if not disingenuous for the petitioner to state that she is the only person with the capacity to take care of my father. My husband and I are prepared to enlist the services of a qualified nurse to look after my father should there be any need," Nkoya argued in her affidavit.
She then paints a picture of 'Maesaiah as a dangerous criminal capable of hiring assassins to kill anyone who could testify against her.
"There is clearly no doubt that if she is released, she has the capacity to ignite the manoeuvres aimed at eliminating her foes, myself included," Nkoya states.
But in his affidavit, Potlako insists that 'Maesaiah should be freed on bail to enable her to look after of Mr Thabane. He pours cold water on his sister's claims that she could look after their father or even hire a nurse to do so, saying Nkoya had abandoned Mr Thabane two years ago after he dismissed her husband (Mr Hlaele) from cabinet.
Potlako alleges in 'Maesaiah's absence, his father has been staying with a minor who could not assist him to properly take his medication.
"I am fully aware of the health condition of my father as I check on him almost daily although I live at my own house. I can confirm without any equivocation that the health of my father has been deteriorating badly in the last few months. It has actually gone from bad to worse since the incarceration of his wife," Potlako says in the previously unseen affidavit obtained by the Lesotho Times this week.
"I can further confirm that my father is not taking his medication as prescribed by the doctors who are treating him due to the fact that there is no one to monitor him. He is an old man with an advanced dementia, among others. I discover, every time I check on him, that he is unable to confirm whether or not he has taken the requisite medication as prescribed.
"My father has a lot of medication to take, three times a day. He is unable to do this on his own. He needs to be assisted in the selection of the relevant medication and the quantities at the relevant time. It is no wonder that since the incarceration of his wife, his health has gone from bad to worse. I have a grave apprehension that unless his wife is released sooner he will, in a matter of weeks if not days, die.
"My father lives at his house all by himself except for a minor girl child who can hardly attend to some of the complications which are more of a personal nature and cannot be handled by such a young girl. My father often runs into these difficulties which can only be handled by one's own spouse and not even his sons and daughters. In addition, and for these reasons, my father has, as a result of his wife's incarceration, become a total mental wreck. It can only be imagined how he feels being all by himself with the nature of the ailments he is going through and at his age."
Potlako further claims it would be impossible for Adv Hlaele to take care of their sick father because she is now "a Hlaele" due to her marriage to the ABC secretary general.
"As regards my sister Nkoya Thabane, it needs only to be mentioned that she is married to the Hlaele family and has for almost two years abandoned our sickly father. She has not cared to visit him as she among others took offence when her husband was dismissed from cabinet.
"She has absolutely no interest in seeing our father live longer according to my observation. These are ordinary family matters but I am forced to deal with them herein realising that my sister clearly does not care whether or not my father lives any longer due to her obvious and well known hatred towards our stepmother, 'Maesaiah Thabane, who has endured so much pain but with a lot of love and care in looking after our sickly father.
"My sister Nkoya has gone public and is on record as declaring her hatred towards our stepmother. She has levelled all sorts of allegations against her ('Maesaiah), simply because she dislikes her and believes she had a hand in the dismissal of her husband from cabinet. Clearly this hatred has driven her to least caring about whether our father dies or lives," Potlako says.
Adding to the severe ruptures in the Thabane family is the fact that 'Maesaiah's bail was revoked partly at the behest of Thomas Thabane jnr, Potlako's own son who was partly raised by the late Lipolelo.