Athletics: The lead investigator in the case of Oscar Pistorius has been removed 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’s bail hearing.
Pistorius has admitted shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, through the bathroom door but claimshe believed she was a burglar.
The prosecution claim it was a premeditated murder, but the athlete’s defence team argue there is no evidence to suggest their client’s account of events is untrue.
On a day of drama in Pretoria 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’s bail hearing on Wednesday, was called back to the witness box today when he was grilled by Magistrate Desmond Nair.
The detective told the court the case against him had previously been dropped, and insisted he was not drunk and was pursuing suspects at the time.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega later confirmed Botha had been replaced by senior detective Lieutenant General Vineshkumar Moonoo, Divisional Commissioner of the Detective Service.
Describing the “significance,” “importance” and “severity” of the investigation, she said: “This matter shall receive attention at a national level and this is why I am announcing the person who will be leading this.”
Earlier defence advocate Barry Roux said poor-quality evidence by Botha had exposed shortcomings in the state’s case.
He said he had been selective with what he said and determined to “bolster the state’s case,” but could not contest Pistorius’s version of what happened.
Roux said Steenkamp staying with the Paralympian was consistent with a loving relationship, and that after she was shot, evidence suggested Pistorius was desperate to save her life.
He said the fact there was no urine in her bladder suggested she had got up to go to the toilet and if Pistorius had shouted about an intruder, it was likely she would have locked the door, adding: “The evidence is not that the applicant knew the toilet was locked when he fired the shots.”