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Ace Magashule’s former bodyguard gets 15 years in jail for stealing Pierneef painting

FILE IMAGE/ANA

FILE IMAGE/ANA

Published Mar 11, 2021

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Cape Town - ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s former bodyguard has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for stealing an R 8 million painting.

Ricardo Mettler, who was Magashule’s bodyguard during his term as the Free State premier, was found guilty on four charges relating to the Pierneef painting.

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In the Bloemfontein High Court on Wednesday, Judge Soma Naidoo sentenced Mettler to an additional 15 years for money laundering for offering the painting to a Chinese businessman as a guarantee for a loan, said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

“The court added another 15 years for fraud. He pretended that the painting was donated to him by Magashule, and that it legally belonged to him. In addition, Judge Naidoo sentenced Mettler to 12 months for making a false statement to the police in which he said Magashule gave him the painting,” said NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.

Mettler will effectively serve 15 years imprisonment after the court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

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He stole the painting in March 2018 while helping to vacate the office of Magashule.

“He removed the barcode and covered it with brown paper. He then offered the painting to Wei-Lun Hsu, for a loan of between R2 million and R3m.

Wei-Lun placed the painting in the newspapers to see if there was anyone who would claim it. A senior official from the Department of Public Works recognised the painting and contacted Mettler requesting that he return it. Mettler refused and a charge of theft was laid against him, Shuping said.

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Mettler knew he was stealing a valuable painting the day he took it from the Premier’s Office, said State prosecutor advocate Antoinette Ferreira.

“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 Hsu 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 and there is a public outcry from the community of public officials who think they are entitled to government resources”, said Ferreira.

Cape Times

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