The former prime minister of Lesotho, Thomas Thabane has paid a team of hitmen from a notorious local gang a down payment of more than US$20 000 to kill his estranged wife, according to police statements.

Thabane was forced to resign last month. The political veteran has denied any involvement in the death of Lipolelo Thabane, who was shot several times at close range as she sat in a car outside her home in the Lesotho capital, Maseru, two days before her husband’s inauguration.

Lipolelo had reportedly refused a divorce and won a court battle to retain her privileges as first lady until any formal separation.

According to sources, Thabane remarried two months after the murder. His second wife became the first lady when Thabane became prime minister. She has been charged with murder and is currently in custody.

Lesotho is one of the least developed countries in southern Africa. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

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