Lesotho’s first lady to face murder charges after turning herself in, police say

Lesotho’s first lady turned herself into authorities on Tuesday after having fled the tiny African country to escape arrest on murder charges.

Maesaiah Thabane, 42, is set to be charged with murder in connection with the 2017 killing of the prime minister's former wife, police said Tuesday.

Newly appointed Lesotho prime Minister Thomas Thabane, left, leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) political party, his wife 'Ma Isaiah Ramoholi Thabane and Zambian President Edgar Lungu, right, attend Thabane's inauguration. 

Newly appointed Lesotho prime Minister Thomas Thabane, left, leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) political party, his wife 'Ma Isaiah Ramoholi Thabane and Zambian President Edgar Lungu, right, attend Thabane's inauguration.  (Samson Motikoe/AFP via Getty Images)

Thabane fled Lesotho, a landlocked country within the borders South Africa, on Jan. 10 to escape arrest. She returned Tuesday afternoon and handed herself to police in the capital, Maseru. Police said she had been hiding in neighboring South Africa.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Mokete Paseka said Thabane would spend the night in custody and be taken to court once the director of public prosecutions has prepared the charge sheet.

An arrest warrant for the first lady was issued the day she fled the country after she refused to report to police for questioning in connection with the murder of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's former wife, Lipolelo.

The killing occurred two days before the prime minister's inauguration for a second term, and two years after a court ruled that Lipolelo was the lawful first lady and entitled to benefits.

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Thomas Thabane married his current wife some two months after Lipolelo's death.

Police interrogated the prime minister earlier this month over the alleged use of his mobile phone to communicate with whoever was at the scene of the killing.

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Last month, the 80-year-old prime minister announced he planned to step down as his ruling party called him no longer fit to lead. The premier didn't specify when he would resign, saying only it would occur "when all is in order."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.