Oscar Pistorius detective facing attempted murder charges
A South African detective leading the Oscar Pistorius case is charged with seven counts of attempted murder after allegedly opening fire on a minibus taxi loaded with passengers.
Detective Hilton Botha, who yesterday gave evidence at the athlete’s bail hearing, was allegedly involved in a shooting two years ago.
Police spokesman Neville Malila said Det Botha and two other officers were due to appear in court in May. It was alleged while driving a state-owned vehicle the three had opened fire on a minibus taxi filled with passengers, Malila said.
The three were arrested in 2011, Eyewitness News says, citing police. Malila said the charges against Botha, a long-standing policeman, had originally been dropped but were reinstated.
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The revelation came as Pistorius's bail hearing is set to enter its final stage this morning.
Pistorius, a Paralympic champion, denies the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29.
The 26-year-old athlete, who is a double amputee, says he shot Steenkamp in the bathroom of his home after mistaking her for an intruder.
His defence team will have to prove the extenuating circumstances which would justify granting bail. If denied bail, he could face months in prison before a full trial gets underway.
Det Botha was yesterday grilled at the athlete’s bail hearing, during which he claimed a witness had said they heard fighting at Pistorius's home the night Steenkamp was shot.
Det Botha initially said the witness was 600m (1,800ft) away, but later amended his answer to 300m after a break for lunch.
Det Botha said police had lost track of ammunition found inside the house, and he was accused of not wearing protective clothing at the crime scene.
The defence also disputed police suggestions testosterone and needles had been found in Pistorius's bedroom, arguing instead the substance was a herbal remedy called Testocompasutium co-enzyme.
The detective, who was the first officer to arrive at Pistorius’s house on Valentine's Day following the shooting of Steenkamp, told the court the trajectory of gunshots through the bathroom door indicated Pistorius was wearing his prosthetic legs and shot downwards through the door.
This contradicted an earlier account given by the athlete, who said he was walking on his stumps and grabbed his gun because he felt vulnerable when he thought an intruder had entered.
The magistrate appeared to question Det Botha's assertion Pistorius could be a flight risk who should be denied bail. The courtroom laughed at the officer when he suggested the world-famous athlete, considered a national hero in South Africa, could go on the run.