Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane did not appear in court on Friday where he was due to be charged with murdering his estranged wife, as his aide said he had gone to South Africa for medical checks.

The 80-year-old prime minister is accused of having acted “in common purpose” in the June 2017 killing of Lilopelo Thabane, 58, with whom he was embroiled in a bitter divorce.

She was gunned down by unknown assailants just two days before Thabane took his oath of office at a colourful ceremony in a stadium.

His current wife Maesaiah Thabane, 42, whom he married two months after Lipolelo’s death, is considered a co-conspirator and has already been charged with murder.

“The PM has still not shown up,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Palesa Mokete at a news conference.

“He was supposed to come in person but we have since been informed that he has gone for a routine check up,” he added.

His reported departure came the same day that police announced he was due Friday to appear before a magistrate for murder charges to be formally read out to him.

Police investigations found that communication records from the day of the murder picked up his cell phone number.

“We have a very strong case against the PM and his phone is not the only evidence that we have,” Mokete told reporters.

“There is a whole lot of other evidence,” he said.

On Thursday, Thabane had announced  that he would quit office by July 31 due to old age.

His elected term would have come to an end in 2022.