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The only way to change the icon of a message is via a C3PO (or Formativ, which does this using the C3PO technique). There is no way to change the class type of an existing message – classname is a read-only property.
The only technique I can think of would be to write an applet that scans the mailbox and re-creates each message using the appropriate (custom) message class. You would need to use the Object API AddExistingMessage() method to do this – see the Novell Object API docs for details.
I hope this helps.