The Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Thursday (10/12) convicted Ricardo Mettler of stealing a Pierneef painting. Judge Soma Naidoo found him guilty on charges of theft, fraud and money laundering, as well as perjury.
Mettler (43), who was former premier Ace Magashule’s bodyguard and driver, was found not guilty on a count of contravening the National Heritage Act.
The court found the painting, believed to be worth R8 million, had been stolen from the Free State Premier’s office in 2018 during Magashule’s tenure. Magashule testified that he did not know if “Pierneef’’ was a painting or a person when vacating the office.
It is alleged that Mettler had stolen the painting with the aim of selling it for over R2 million to a Chinese businessman in Bloemfontein.