In 2018, a painting worth R8 million went missing from the Free State Premier’s offices.
Now former premier Ace Magashule’s bodyguard Ricardo Mettler, 42, has been found guilty and will remain in custody until his sentencing.
Mettler was found guilty of fraud by the Bloemfontein High Court after he pretended that the painting was given to him by Magashule.
Free State NPA spokesman Phaladi Shuping said Mettler was also found guilty of money laundering for offering the painting to a Chinese businessman, Wei-Lin His.
“The High Court of South Africa: Free State Division found the former bodyguard of the then premier of the Free State, Ace Magashule, guilty of theft, fraud, money laundering and making a false statement under oath.
“Ricardo Mettler was found guilty of stealing a valuable Pierneef painting from The Office of the Premier, Free State at OR Tambo building in Bloemfontein,” said NPA spokesman Phaladi Shuping.
“Mettler was also convicted of fraud after pretending that the painting was given to him by Magashule and that it legally belongs to him. In addition, Judge Soma Naidoo found him guilty of making a false statement to the police in which he said Magashule gave him the painting as a present,” said Shuping adding that the painting was valued at about R8 million when it went missing two years ago.
Mettler was denied bail after conviction and he will remain in custody. The case was postponed to Tuesday, 15 December 2020 for the court to get a preliminary report regarding his minor children.
Scrolla.Africa spotted Mettler at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court when Ace Magashule was attending his corruption charges on 13 November.