Artist charged with sex worker’s murder
Cape Town - Cape Town artist Zwelethu Mthethwa is at the centre of a police investigation into the murder of a Woodstock woman.
It was reported over the weekend that Mthethwa, 52, a painter and photographer, had been arrested on a murder charge last month.
It was alleged that he had beaten and kicked a woman, apparently a sex worker, to death on April 13.
Mthethwa has shown his work at several international exhibitions and was represented in New York by the Jack Shainman Gallery.
Die Burger reported that Mthethwa had been arrested on a murder charge on May 5.
He appeared in court the next day and was released on R100 000 bail.
The case was postponed to August 26 for further investigation, the newspaper reported.
Mark Read, the director of the Everard Read Gallery, which represents him in Johannesburg, said he had spoken to Mthethwa briefly after hearing of his arrest.
Read said he had wanted to express his shock and offer emotional support.
“He seemed to think that everything would turn out all right. If Zwelethu is found to be not the person involved, then a huge sorry is due to him. If he is responsible then justice must be done.”
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said he was unable to comment on the case.
“This matter is currently before court and it is therefore not possible to disclose finer aspects of the police investigation, as it could jeopardise the case,” Kinana said.
According to a biography on the Everard Read Gallery website, Mthethwa was born in 1960 in Durban.
“His work is grounded in tradition, yet he imbues it with a riveting contemporary presence. He yanks the viewer through the looking-glass into his painterly planet. It is a world full of possible ‘windows’, yet these openings are flat surfaces soaked in subtly modulated fictions.
“And his paintings serve as visual songs, their lyrics narrating a story of how painting refers to itself while being fed by experiential nutrients. They serve both as parentheses within the real world and as vividly evocative vignettes of moments, intensely lived,” the biography reads.
According to Brundyn + Gonsalves, the gallery which represented Mthethwa in Cape Town, he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, which he had entered during apartheid under special ministerial consent.
He earned a Master’s degree in imaging arts while on a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
Mthethwa has exhibited in the US, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland.
His work has featured in major international group shows, including the 2005 Venice Biennale and Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, which toured internationally, the Cape Town gallery said.