Tha­bane’s di­vorce case stalls

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

LAWYERS rep­re­sent­ing for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and his wife, Lipolelo, in their di­vorce trial meet Chief Jus­tice Nthomeng Ma­jara to­day to dis­cuss a “mis­un­der­stand­ing” re­gard­ing the case’s al­lo­ca­tion to a new judge.

The mat­ter was set for a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, known in legal terms as pre-trial con­fer­ence, on Tues­day be­fore Jus­tice ‘Mase­shophe Hla­joane.

How­ever, Ms Tha­bane’s lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Zwe­lakhe Mda, sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion from Jus­tice Hla­joane how she ended up with the case yet it had been be­fore Jus­tice Teboho Moiloa all along. Ac­cord­ing to a court of­fi­cial close to the case, an agree­ment was then reached be­tween the lawyers that they should meet the Chief Jus­tice to­day, Thurs­day, so she could ex­plain the trans­fer as she is re­spon­si­ble for al­lo­cat­ing cases to the var­i­ous judges.

The court of­fi­cial fur­ther told the Le­sotho Times that Ad­vo­cate Mda wanted clar­i­fi­ca­tion be­fore the case could pro­ceed as he wanted to en­sure the re-al­lo­ca­tion was trans­par­ent and would not prej­u­dice his client.

Con­tacted for com­ment, Ad­vo­cate Mda con­firmed the de­vel­op­ments, adding the change in the judge had come as a sur­prise to him and his client.

“We are go­ing to meet the Chief Jus­tice on Thurs­day to clar­ify how the case has been al­lo­cated to an­other judge.

“It is not like we are against any par­tic­u­lar judge, but we are just seek­ing an ex­pla­na­tion as to why the mat­ter has been re­moved from the judge who has been deal­ing with it all along.

“You will re­alise that the judge who has been han­dling this case has al­ready made some rul­ings on in­ter­locu­tory mat­ters in this mat­ter, so there should be an ex­pla­na­tion as to why the case has now been re-al­lo­cated,” Ad­vo­cate Mda said.

Ac­cord­ing to pa­pers be­fore the court, Dr Tha­bane was mar­ried to Lipolelo ( née Mak- hooane) “by civil rites and in com­mu­nity of prop­erty in 1987,” and the mar­riage “still sub­sists”, although the cou­ple has been living apart since 2009.

Dr Tha­bane in­di­cates in the court doc­u­ments that no child was born out of the mar­riage “but the par­ties have legally adopted one mi­nor child (name with­held to pro­tect her iden­tity).”

Ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments, Dr Tha­bane is seek­ing to end the mar­riage be­cause Ms Lipolelo “acted with a fixed and ma­li­cious in­ten­tion to ter­mi­nate the said mar­riage” by com­mit­ting the fol­low­ing “mat­ri­mo­nial wrongs: Us­ing vul­gar and pro­fane lan­guage to­wards my chil­dren from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage; Carous­ing un­til late hours of the night; In 2010, she started living away from the mat­ri­mo­nial home with­out any prior ar­range­ment; Some­time in 2010, she ar­rived at the mat­ri­mo­nial home in Makhoakho­eng and fol­low­ing an al­ter­ca­tion with me, smashed win­dows and doors of the house; Since that fate­ful day, has not been to the mat­ri­mo­nial home, thus deny­ing me con­sor­tium and all other re­lated mar­i­tal rights and priv­i­leges; stopped show­ing any love and af­fec­tions to­wards me”.

Dr Tha­bane fur­ther sub­mit­ted, through his legal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, that un­der the said cir­cum­stances, “and solely due to mat­ri­mo­nial mis­con­duct” on the part of Ms Lipolelo, the cou­ple has not been living to­gether as hus­band and wife for an “un­rea­son­ably long pe­riod of time” and “there is no har­mony in their mar­riage”.

Ac­cord­ing to the court pa­pers, Dr Tha­bane is de­mand­ing the fol­low­ing from Ms Lipolelo:

Di­vorce on the grounds of ma­li­cious de­ser­tion.

Cus­tody of the mi­nor child, sub­ject to Ms Lipolelo’s rea­son­able ac­cess.

Main­te­nance of the mi­nor child to be his sole re­spon­si­bil­ity, with Ms Lipolelo still hav­ing a duty and right to con­trib­ute to­wards the main­te­nance ac­cord­ing to her own means and abil­i­ties. Di­vi­sion of their joint es­tate. How­ever, in her de­fence, Ms Lipolelo dis­misses Dr Tha­bane’s claims and gives her own ver­sion of events.

Through her lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Mda, Ms Lipolelo notes in her court pa­pers: “The de­fen­dant, by agree­ment of the par­ties, lives in the Repub­lic of South Africa and only comes to Le­sotho on week­ends and does not have night es­capades. She comes to Le­sotho to at­tend to fam­ily busi­ness.

“The true sce­nario was as fol­lows: Some­time in 2010, the de­fen­dant (Ms Lipolelo) re­ported to the plain­tiff (Dr Tha­bane) that a rel­a­tive of theirs (one Thaabe) had sex­u­ally ha­rassed her and the plain­tiff did not care, and in­stead, locked her out­side the mat­ri­mo­nial home.

“The de­fen­dant re­tal­i­ated by break­ing down the win­dows, and the plain­tiff then in­structed his sons (from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage) to as­sault the de­fen­dant. The as­sault con­tin­ued with­out the plain­tiff in­ter­ven­ing.”

Crim­i­nal charges were laid against Ms Lipolelo’s as­sailants, the court pa­pers in­di­cate, while Dr Tha­bane pressed charges of ma­li­cious dam­age to prop­erty.

“This is the main rea­son why the de­fen­dant is afraid to go back to the mat­ri­mo­nial home,” Ad­vo­cate Mda sub­mit­ted.

More­over, the lawyer added, it was Dr Tha­bane who re­cently told Ms Lipolelo that he no longer loved her.

“In­deed, the de­fen­dant is de­sirous and ea­ger to re­turn to the mat­ri­mo­nial home,” Ad­vo­cate Mda sub­mit­ted, adding Ms Lipolelo was also ea­ger to “re­store con­ju­gal rights at any time and is of the view that the mar­riage can still be saved”.

Ms Lipolelo fur­ther sub­mit­ted that through­out the course of their mar­riage, Dr Tha­bane had al­legedly com­mit­ted adul­tery with nu­mer­ous part­ners.

But in his counter-re­sponse, Dr Tha­bane, through his lawyer, ex­plained why he stopped living with Ms Lipolelo.

“The de­fen­dant has per­ma­nently been living in Le­sotho since around 2009 af­ter the par­ties’ mat­ri­mo­nial home in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, was auc­tioned for fail­ure by the de­fen­dant to pay mort­gage bond.

“The home was auc­tioned de­spite the plain­tiff send­ing the de­fen­dant, at the end of each month, money as con­tri­bu­tion for her own main­te­nance and pay­ment of the mort­gage bond.”

At­tor­ney Mosotho fur­ther sub­mit­ted that even when the said mat­ri­mo­nial home was put on auc­tion, Ms Lipolelo never in­formed or ad­vised Dr Tha­bane about it.

“Upon her re­turn to Le­sotho, the de­fen­dant stayed at her friend’s house and did not join the plain­tiff at the par­ties’ mat­ri­mo­nial home in Makhoakho­eng. This, she did with­out any prior con­sul­ta­tion or agree­ment with the plain­tiff,” At­tor­ney Mosotho sub­mit­ted.

At­tor­ney Mosotho added re­gard­ing the al­leged as­sault by Dr Tha­bane’s sons, the cor­rect po­si­tion was Ms Lipolelo had at­tended a wed­ding of a rel­a­tive in Makhoakho­eng “and late at night, she and her brother went to the par­ties’ mat­ri­mo­nial home. When the plain­tiff re­fused to let them in­side the house, they broke the win­dows into the plain­tiff’s bed­room and threw stones at him.”

At­tor­ney Mosotho added neigh­bours in­formed Dr Tha­bane’s sons of the sit­u­a­tion and they, in turn, rushed to their fa­ther’s res­cue.

“The de­fen­dant is not afraid to re­turn to the mat­ri­mo­nial home as she has never been to the mat­ri­mo­nial home since her re­turn from South Africa. The par­ties have, over the years, drifted apart and there is no longer love shared be­tween them,” At­tor­ney Mosotho noted.

Dr Tha­bane, the lawyer added, de­nied “be­ing en­gaged in adul­ter­ous re­la­tion­ships as al­leged or at all and puts the de­fen­dant to strictest proof thereof.

“Al­ter­na­tively, and as­sum­ing but with­out con­ced­ing that the al­le­ga­tions in this re­gard were true, that would be proof that there is no longer mar­i­tal bonds shared by the par­ties, in par­tic­u­lar when the de­fen­dant al­leges not to have con­doned the al­leged adul­ter­ous acts by the plain­tiff.”

Ad­vo­cate Zwe­lakhe mda

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