Convicted killer artist wants bail to sort life out before sentencing

2017-03-29 14:25
Zwelethu Mthethwa consults his lawyer in court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Zwelethu Mthethwa consults his lawyer in court. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - Valuable artworks, an art studio in Cape Town, a young daughter in England, and a gluten allergy.

These were some of the reasons convicted killer Zwelethu Mthethwa gave on Wednesday for arguing why he needed to be released from custody pending his sentencing.

After being convicted two weeks ago for killing sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo in 2015, the Western Cape High Court revoked his R100 000 bail and sent the smartly dressed 57-year-old to Pollsmoor Prison.

On Wednesday, his lawyer William Booth brought an application to release him on bail, arguing he was not a flight risk.

Coming up from the holding cell, Mthethwa still had a suit on, but had replaced a dress shirt with a simple black T-shirt.

"He needs to make long-term arrangements for all aspects of his life," Booth told Judge Patricia Goliath while reading out his client's affidavit.

'Inconvenience' of incarceration

He said Mthethwa was willing to pay R200 000 bail and abide by any other conditions. As an artist, people from "all walks of life" could attest to his character.

Booth would hand the court letters from his colleagues, including one from the US, to show he was held in high regard.

He said Kumalo's family should be considered, but so should the law on bail.

Jumping ahead to sentencing, he said Mthethwa could contribute to society and that there were other options besides direct imprisonment.

The State did not initially oppose his release two weeks ago.

But on Wednesday, prosecutor Christenus van der Vijver said the basis of the bail application seemed to be the "inconvenience" that incarceration had caused to the artist's life.

He argued that Mthethwa could give power of attorney to someone to sort out his affairs.

The court would be setting a "dangerous precedent" by granting bail to someone for the sake of convenience, he added.

Porsche, R5m home

On the family front, Mthethwa wanted to personally inform his 15-year-old daughter in England of his conviction. He needed to sort out her tertiary education and funding for the next few years.

The water and electricity accounts at his R5m home in Devil's Peak Estate had to be taken care of, along with his Porsche, furniture, and art collection.

Also to be addressed were rent money and artworks for his arts studio in Adderley Street, payment arrangements for his art at the Jack Shainman gallery in New York, the caretaking of his plot in Clanwilliam, and payment for his insurance broker.

On the health front, he had a gluten intolerance. He wished to sort out eating plans and make arrangements with prison authorities.

The State countered that none of these challenges were insurmountable.

On the letters supporting Mthethwa, the prosecutor said: "I ask myself the question: how many of these people have seen and really appreciated the absolute brutality with which the deceased was kicked and stomped to death?"

The court would rule on Mthethwa's bail on Friday.

Sentencing arguments were postponed until April 20. This was so the defence could secure reports from experts such as a forensic social worker and clinical psychologist.

Read more on:    zwelethu mthethwa  |  cape town  |  crime

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