Ace Magashule’s former driver gets 15 years in jail for stealing R8m painting
A man employed as Ace Magashule’s bodyguard when he was premier of the Free State has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for stealing a Pierneef painting worth R8m.
Ricardo Mettler, 43, was sentenced in the Bloemfontein high court on Wednesday.
He was found guilty of theft, money laundering and fraud in December last year.
Mettler was also found guilty of making a false statement to the police in which he said Magashule gave him the painting as a present.
This followed a trial regarding the disappearance of the painting from the provincial government’s OR Tambo House in Bloemfontein. Mettler stole the painting in March 2018 while helping to clear Magashule’s office.
State prosecutor advocate Antoinette Ferreira said Mettler knew he was stealing a valuable painting.
“The accused had a motive when he wanted to disguise the marking. He knew the painting was valuable in March 2018 when he wanted to offer it [to a businessman] as a guarantee. He was twice requested to return the painting but he refused. He was motivated by greed. He abused his position of trust,” said Ferreira.
“There is a public outcry about officials who think they are entitled to government resources,” she added.
Judge Soma Naidoo sentenced Mettler to 15 years for theft. He was also sentenced to 15 years for money laundering for offering the painting to a Chinese businessman as a guarantee for loan of R2m to R3m, 15 years for fraud and 12 months for making a false statement to the police. The sentences will run concurrently.