Playwright Welcome Msomi (far right) poses with Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa and family members of the late Joe Mafela. Picture: Twitter.

A Trustee of the Living Legends Legacy Programme (LLLP), Themba Welcome Msomi (76), has been remanded in custody after he appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Msomi was arrested this past weekend in Durban by the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation following a probe into R8 million that was allegedly stolen from the LLLP trust account early this year.

The programme was started by the Department of Arts and Culture in September 2018, and a trust was set up in order to empower living legends when it comes to accessing opportunities available to them.  

He is expected to appear in the same court on April 2 with legal representation, said Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha. 

Msomi was a nominee for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer. His work as a Playwright and Producer has seen him receive critical acclaim internationally. 

He is most popularly known for founding the Izulu Dance Theatre and Music, established in 1965 in Durban. His work UMABATHA, a Zulu adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, also received much acclaim. 

Welcome Msomi appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on Monday on charges of theft. Picture: Supplied

In January, the  Living Legends committee, made up of several icons of arts and culture, held a media briefing explaining how the theft of funds had occurred.

The fund which was started by the department of Arts and Culture in September for the Living Legends Legacy Programme (LLLP)was said to have been embezzled from the first day the funds were placed into an account.

LLLP acting chair Letta Mbulu told media at the January briefing that the organisation had opened a case with the police and had also met with the bank involved to find out about the investigation.

To date, the Department of Arts and Culture has set aside the amount of R20 million to aid the LLLP in its mandate and objectives.

Of the pledged R20 million, R8 million had been paid over to the trust. The Trust was set up in response to the challenges faced by the living legends in relation to the access of opportunities available to them.

In a statement released by the Department, minister Nathi Mthethwa said the theft left him in shock.

“It is with great relief that I have received the news that a suspect is now in custody. I have full confidence that the law will now take its course. The Department of Arts and Culture is continuing to engage the bank in question, because it absolutely has to account as to how a bank account that is subject to stringent controls in addition to existing strict banking regulations could be compromised in this manner. We will not rest until we have all the answers we seek including relief in the form of recovery of monies lost.”

The managing committee of the LLLP includes the likes of Don Materra, Wally Serote, Stompie Manana and Peter Magubane. 

@mane_mpi

The Star