Pierneef suspect due in Bfn court

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Questions are mounting as to whether any of ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule’s close allies will soon be appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court with regard to the Pierneef case.

This, after the Hawks in the Free State subpoenaed a 42-year-old man to appear on charges of theft and fraud relating to the multi-million rand Pierneef painting that was allegedly gifted to Magashule’s former bodyguard.

The multi-million rand painting, by legendary South African landscape artist Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, was allegedly stolen from the premier’s office in the OR Tambo Building in Bloemfontein in March 2018 during Magashule’s tenure and taken to an Auctioneers firm in Gauteng to determine its value and to be auctioned.

The painting, which was evaluated at approximately R8 million, was later seized by the Hawks. Hawks spokesperson, Lynda Steyn, says the 42-year-old will be charged with contravening Section 32 (13) of the National Heritage Resources Act, making false statements in an affidavit and in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, amongst others.

Steyn on Tuesday told OFM News she could not name the suspect until he made his first appearance in court.

OFM News, however, last year reported that the painting was allegedly among Magashule’s personal belongings when he vacated his office and that it was given to one of Magashule’s bodyguards, Ricardo Mettler.

According to media reports, Mettler admitted receiving the painting as a gift from Magashule. The painting then ended up with a local businessman, who approached auctioneers to determine the value of the painting.

The auctioneer placed advertisements, including one of the Pierneef which was noticed by Free State authorities who then discovered the artwork was missing. The auctioneers reported the matter to the police.

When OFM News contacted Mettler on Tuesday he indicated that he is in hospital.

OFM News