Court threatens to arrest playwright Welcome Msomi

Convicted playwright Welcome Msomi leaves the Palm Ridge magistrate's court during his earlier appearance. / Veli Nhlapo
Convicted playwright Welcome Msomi leaves the Palm Ridge magistrate's court during his earlier appearance. / Veli Nhlapo

A magistrate has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest for convicted playwright Welcome Msomi should his lawyers fail to submit his full medical report on February 27.

The threat comes a week after the Pietermaritzburg high court issued a stayed warrant of arrest for former president Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing in his corruption case.

Yesterday, magistrate Janse van Vuuren, who yesterday appeared not pleased by the dragging on of sentencing proceedings, was reacting to Msomi's legal team that wanted the sentencing to be postponed to June 2. Msomi's sentencing was postponed for the second time yesterday, pending a medical report.

"The accused's medical report has been pending since November and it must be submitted on February 27 or a warrant [of arrest] will be issued," Van Vuuren said.

His legal team told the Palm Ridge magistrate's court that Msomi was discharged last week after three months of hospitalisation.

Benito Mangolele, however, said his client was still not well, hence he was unable to appear in court yesterday.

"I was supposed to receive the medical record yesterday but it did not arrive. I spoke to my client [and] he [is] still not well," Mangolele said.

Mangolele previously told Sowetan that Msomi suffered a major stroke in November that left him paralysed.

Msomi was found guilty in October of stealing R8m from the Living Legends Legacy Programme (LLLP) trust account. He was convicted on 61 counts of theft last month following a case of theft that LLLP trustees opened against him after discovering that millions of rands were stolen from the trust's bank account.

The transactions occurred between September 18 and October 24. His health issues began in July after he suffered a diabetic coma.

Court papers stated that Msomi transferred the money from the FNB trust account to his own personal account on September 18, the day the money was transferred into the trust account from the department of arts and culture.

The disappearance of the funds was discovered in January last year by acting chairperson of LLLP, Letta Mbulu, who opened a case of fraud at Bramley police station outside Alexandra in Johannesburg.

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