The Hawks have completed an investigation into the alleged theft of a painting by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef worth an estimated R8 million. The matter is now in the hands of the National Prosecuting Authority, News24 reports.
Daily Maverick reported in October 2018 that Magashule was “directly implicated” in the theft of the painting.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha told News24 that a docket has been handed to the NPA, who must now decide whether or not to prosecute, further explaining that no arrests have been made thus far.
Auctioneers Strauss and Co first alerted the police after they were given the painting to valuate. They publicised the valuation, which led to Free State authorities alerting the company that the painting was missing
The auctioneer placed an advertisement publicising the Pierneef, which drew the attention of Free State authorities, who then discovered the artwork was missing, following which the auctioneers contacted law enforcement.
The painting is believed to have been placed among Magashule’s personal belongings when his office was cleared out, and was given first to one of his security officials, Ricardo Mettler, who in turn gave it to the businessman who attempted to have it valuated.
In a recent survey from South African Citizen Surveys (Sacs), Magashule was found to be the least-popular ANC leader, with his approval rating having declined from 16% in June to only 11% in July this year.
The ANC in a statement at the time said it rejected “with contempt” the finding about Magashule.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the survey “purports to be a favourability rating instrument of political leaders”, but they saw it instead as “a notorious ploy to cast leaders they dislike in a negative light”.
Magashule has regularly been linked to allegations of corruption, with links to the Gupta family and others, along with allegations of abuse of power, especially during his years as the Free State premier. This was examined in great detail in a bestselling book, Gangster State, which Magashule undertook to sue the author for, but he appears to have not yet done so.
(Edited by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Gcina Ntsaluba and Charles Cilliers)