Former Free State premier Ace Magashule’s driver will likely know his fate on Wednesday when his sentencing proceedings continue in the High Court in Bloemfontein.
OFM News reports that Judge Soma Naidoo is expected to sentence Ricardo Mettler on Wednesday for stealing an R8 million Pierneef painting. He was found guilty in 2020 on four counts – including theft, fraud, money laundering and perjury. Two pre-sentencing reports have been presented in court thus far, which looked into Mettler’s affairs. Mettler is facing a 15-year jail sentence.
A pre-sentencing report by probation officer Zandile Nxumalo painted Mettler as not remorseful. Nxumalo’s report indicated Mettler was not a changed man, or even willing to change, and this would not assist in the rehabilitation process. She also reported that he does not accept responsibility for the crime.
It’s been said that he stole the painting with the intention of selling it to a Bloemfontein businessman – Wei-Lin Hsu – for more than R2 million. He was charged with theft, fraud, money laundering and perjury, pertaining to an affidavit he made about obtaining the multi-million rand piece of art. He was also ordered to appear in court in 2019 after the painting was seized by the Hawks.
Mettler’s initial statement read that he was gifted this valuable piece by Magashule during his move following his appointment as ANC Secretary-General (SG).
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.