Pierneef theft: Mettler files appeal

Part of the painting by J Pierneef which was stolen from the Free State premier's office in 2018.

Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s driver, Ricardo Mettler, who was convicted of stealing an R8 million Pierneef painting, has filed papers for leave to appeal his sentence and conviction by the High Court in Bloemfontein.

OFM News reports that a High Court official confirms to OFM News that Mettler’s new legal counsel, Advocate Hannaes Peyper, has filed for an appeal last week. Mettler wants his 15-year prison sentence overturned and set aside.

Judge Soma Naidoo found Mettler guilty in 2020 on counts of theft, fraud, money laundering and perjury, and accordingly sentenced him in March 2021. Judge Naidoo handed Mettler an effective 15-year prison sentence for theft, 15 years for money laundering, 15 years for fraud and 12 months for perjury. Counts two and four are running concurrently.

It’s been said that Mettler stole the painting to sell it to a Bloemfontein businessman – Wei-Lin Hsu – or use it as a guarantee for a loan of more than R2 million. Following Hsu’s testimony in court, he was exempted from prosecution.

OFM News previously reported that a pre-sentencing report by a probation officer from Social Development presented in the Free State High Court during the sentencing proceedings of Mettler painted him as not remorseful.

Zandile Nxumalo presented her report before Judge Naidoo, which looked into the affairs of Mettler. The report indicated that Mettler was not a changed man or even willing to change and this would not assist with the rehabilitation process. She also reported that he is not accepting responsibility for the crime committed. Nxumalo said Mettler gave a piece of contradicting information and disregarded the findings of the court when he was found guilty.