A former driver and bodyguard to former Free State premier Ace Magashule was convicted yesterday of stealing an R8m Pierneef painting which once hung in Magashule's office.
The Bloemfontein high court found Ricardo Mettler, 43, guilty of theft, money laundering and fraud.
This follows a trial with regard to the disappearance of the valuable JH Pierneef painting from the provincial government's OR Tambo building in the Free State during 2018.
“The Hawks' commercial crime investigation resulted in Mettler, former Free State premier Ace Magashule's ex-driver and bodyguard, being summoned to appear at the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on March 4 2020 and the matter was consequently transferred to the high court,” said Free State Hawks spokesperson Col Katlego Mogale.
“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 R8m.”
The court found Mettler guilty on four counts but he was found not guilty on a count of contravening the National Heritage Act.
The matter has been postponed to December 15 for a report of a social worker.