Top Pistorius investigator replaced
Published 21/02/2013 | 04:51
The lead investigator in the case of Oscar Pistorius has been replaced after he was charged with seven counts of attempted murder.
The announcement by the South African Police Service came on the third day of Pistorius' bail hearing, as sports giant Nike confirmed it has suspended its contract with the Paralympian.
In a statement, Nike said: "Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius. We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."
The company's now infamous ad showed 26-year-old Pistorius powering out of a set of sprinting blocks, wearing his prosthetic blades, alongside the words 'I Am The Bullet In The Chamber'.
"Blade Runner" Pistorius has admitted shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, through the bathroom door, thinking she was a burglar. Realising his mistake, he broke the door down with a cricket bat and carried her downstairs. While the prosecution claims it was a premeditated murder, his defence advocate has argued there is no evidence to suggest the athlete's account of events is untrue.
In a dramatic twist it emerged that lead investigator Hilton Botha has been charged with seven counts of attempted murder relating to an incident in October 2011 and is due to appear in court himself in May with two other police officers, accused of firing shots at a minibus which had seven people inside. The case was previously dropped but he was charged on Wednesday, to the surprise of prosecutors in the Pistorius case.
Botha, who gave evidence at Pistorius' bail hearing, was summoned back to the witness box where he was questioned by Magistrate Desmond Nair. The detective told the court the case against him had previously been dropped, and said he was not drunk and was chasing suspects at the time. He also admitted he had not yet obtained telephone or financial records for Steenkamp, and was told by Magistrate Nair that there appeared to have been a lack of urgency in getting them.
In a news conference after the bail hearing was adjourned until Friday, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said Botha had been replaced by senior detective Lieutenant General Vineshkumar Moonoo, Divisional Commissioner of the Detective Service.
Earlier, during the bail hearing's third day - which was interrupted by fears of a "threat" outside, the star wept as defence advocate Barry Roux summed up his case. Mr Roux said poor-quality evidence by Botha had exposed disastrous shortcomings in the state's case.
Summing up the prosecution case, Gerrie Nel said the onus was not on the state, but on Pistorius, to prove he should be given bail.