A court in South Africa on Wednesday sentenced a former bodyguard of South African politician and an anti-apartheid activist, Ace Magashule to 15 years in jail for stealing a painting worth R8 million, over K410 Million.

Ricardo Mettler has also been handed another 15 years for money laundering after he offered the Pierneef painting to a Chinese businessman as a guarantee for a loan.

A statement by the police said: “The court added another 15 years for fraud. He pretended that the painting was donated to him by Magashule, and that it legally belonged to him. In addition, Judge Naidoo sentenced Mettler to 12 months for making a false statement to the police, in which he said Magashule gave him the painting.”

Mettler stole the painting in March 2018 while helping to vacate Magashule’s office while he was the Premier of Free State; the then-bodyguard was found guilty on four charges last year.

The court heard how he removed the barcode and covered it with a brown paper.

State prosecutor Advocate Antoinette Ferreira said Mettler knew he was stealing a valuable painting.

“The accused had a motive when he wanted to disguise the marking. He knew the painting was valuable in March 2018 when he wanted to offer it Wei-Lun Hsu as a guarantee. He was twice requested to return the painting, but he refused. He was motivated by greed. He abused his position of trust and there is a public outcry from the community of public officials who think they are entitled to government resources.”

Mettler will effectively serve 15 years imprisonment after the court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

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