The painting once hung in the former Free State premier, Ace Magashule’s office.
Cape Town – Ricardo Mettler was on Thursday convicted of stealing an R8 million Pierneef painting which once hung in former Free State premier Ace Magashule’s office.
Judge Soma Naidoo found Magashule’s former driver and bodyguard guilty on four charges of theft, fraud, money laundering and perjury pertaining to an affidavit he made about obtaining the R8 million masterpiece. It had been stolen from the provincial government’s OR Tambo building in 2018.
The 43-year-old Mettler claimed in his initial statement that he had been gifted this valuable piece by Magashule after he was elected ANC secretary-general.
It was alleged that he stole the painting with the intention of selling it to a Bloemfontein businessman for over R2 million.
Magashule testified in court and told the judge that when he was vacating the premier’s office, he gave various personal items to different people, including Mettler.
He also testified that he did not even know if ’’Pierneef’’ was a painting or an actual person.
Free State Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said: ’’The unyielding investigation determined that Mettler stole and handed the Pierneef painting over to a businessman, who then went on to have the piece evaluated by Strauss and Co, from where the alarm was raised as it was identified as the provincial government’s asset valued at approximately R8 million.”
Mettler was found not guilty on a count of contravening the National Heritage Act.
The matter has been postponed to December 15 for a report from a social worker.