Pistorius detective on attempted murder charges

Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:47am EST
 
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By Peroshni Govender

PRETORIA (Reuters) - The lead detective in the Oscar Pistorius murder case is himself facing attempted murder charges for firing on a minibus full of passengers, South African police said on Thursday as prosecutors argued in court to deny the athlete bail.

Hilton Botha, who took the stand against Pistorius at the Paralympic and Olympic track star's bail hearing earlier this week, is due to appear in court in May over the 2011 shooting incident, police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said.

"Botha and two other policemen allegedly tried to stop a minibus taxi with seven people. They fired shots," Malila told Reuters.

At the time, Botha - a detective with 24 years on the force - was chasing a man accused of murdering a woman and disposing of her dismembered body down a drain, local media said.

The charges against Botha were provisionally withdrawn but were reinstated on February 4 - 10 days before the shooting of 29-year-old model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp in a locked toilet at Pistorius' Pretoria home, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

"The decision to reinstate was taken on February 4, way before the issue of Pistorius came to light or the murder of Reeva was committed," NPA spokesman Medupe Simasiku told Reuters. "It's completely unrelated to this trial."

Malila said now that the court had decided to charge Botha, there would be an internal disciplinary investigation which would decide whether to keep him on the case: "At this stage there are no plans to take him off the Pistorius case."

It was unclear why the charges were reinstated against Botha, or how the latest twist in Pistorius' sensational four-day bail hearing will affect the athlete's chances of securing release from custody pending his trial.   Continued...

 
Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during a break in court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko