Former Magashule driver to be sentenced today


Former Free State premier Ace Magashule’s driver, Ricardo Mettler, is set to be sentenced in the High Court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

OFM News reports that He was found guilty by Judge Soma Naidoo in 2020 on four charges pertaining to the theft of a Pierneef painting, worth R8 million, that belonged to the state. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison on a charge of theft, 30 years or a fine of R100 million for fraud, and three years for perjury.

Judge Naidoo found Mettler guilty on four charges of theft, fraud, money laundering and perjury, pertaining to an affidavit he made about obtaining the multi-million rand piece of art. It is said that he stole the painting with the intention of selling it to Bloemfontein businessman, Wei-Lin Hsu, for over R2 million, or offer it as a loan guarantee.

He was charged and ordered to appear in court in 2019 after the painting was seized by the Hawks.

Soon after being found guilty, Mettler launched a bid to be released on an extended warning before today’s sentencing. His bid was, however, dismissed by Naidoo, saying a social worker’s urgent preliminary report into his family welfare – following claims that he was the sole provider – did not warrant his release.

Mettler’s initial statement read that he was gifted this valuable piece by Magashule when he became the ANC Secretary-General.

Magashule testified in court and told the judge when he was vacating the Premier’s office, he gave various personal items to different people, including Mettler.

He also testified that he did not even know if ‘Pierneef’ was a painting or an actual person.

The state called a total of 14 witnesses, including his former personal assistant, Nomalanga Moroadi Selina Cholota.