Saturday, 04 July 2020 19:08


Photo Credit:Veli Nhlapo.

Veteran playwright Welcome Msomi has died at the age of 76. 

Msomi was born in Durban in 1943. He wrote his first book at the age of 15 and went on to make his name in Zulu literature as well as South African theatre.

He founded the iZulu Dance Theatre (IDT) and Music in 1965 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The theatre opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1979.

Msomi was hospitalised in late 2019 when he was due to be sentenced regarding the millions of rands stolen from the Living Legends Legacy Programme. He was convicted on 61 counts of theft after he stole R8 million from the Legacy Programme.

He was due for sentencing in February, but the case was postponed due to his health issues. The Magistrate presiding over his case, Janse van Vuuren, threatened to issue out a warrant for his arrest if his legal team failed to submit a medical report by 27 February, which had been pending since November 2019.

The case was postponed to 2 June and was further postponed again on the day.

Msomi is world-renowned for writing and directing theatre play Umabatha. The play is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and details how Mabatha overthrows Dingane. It was staged in 2016 by the University of Pretoria.

He also directed Buya Africa and created music for Tamburlaine the Great, a Royal Shakespeare Company production.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Theatre from the Arts & Culture Trust in 2012.