National

Botha dropped as investigator in Pistorius case

Staff Reporter

Police detective Hilton Botha will no longer be the lead investigator in a murder case involving Oscar Pistorius.

Police detective Hilton Botha. (AFP)

National Commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Thursday the leader of the investigation team will be the "top detective" in police, Lieutenant-General Vineshkumar Moonoo.

"He is an experienced detective. He has 22 years' experience," she said.

Phiyega said, "We do not lynch people ... Officer Botha is still a member of the South African Police Service, he is still working. He is not suspended."

eNCA reported earlier on Thursday the charges were provisionally withdrawn but then reinstated on Wednesday.

Botha told eNCA's Karyn Maughan: "I don't understand why [the] case was reinstated [on Wednesday]. I can only think this is linked to my work on Oscar Pistorius."

But NPA confirmed to eNCA late on Thursday morning the charges were reinstated on February 4.

The police's Neville Malila said it was one case with seven charges of attempted murder. He said Botha was first charged in 2009, but that the charges were provisionally withdrawn and the matter was referred to the director of public prosecutions (DPP).

"It was only yesterday [Wednesday] that we were informed by the DPP that he is being charged," said Malila.

Botha allegedly fired shots at a taxi as he tried to stop it. The taxi had seven occupants in it.

Eyewitness News reported three law enforcement officials were allegedly drunk while driving a state vehicle when they opened fire on the taxi. They were arrested in 2011. One of the officials was Botha and the three were due to appear in court in May.

"My blood was never tested for alcohol in the aftermath of the shooting. I wasn't drunk," he said to Maughaun. "We were trying to apprehend a second suspect in an office park murder. The taxi tried to push us off the road. We fired."

Police confirmed the information, saying the officer was drunk at the time.

Malila said the matter was referred to the director of public prosecutions after the charges were withdrawn. 

"It was only yesterday [Wednesday] that we were informed by the [director] that he is being charged," he said.

Botha already testified against Pistorius in a bid for the court not to grant him bail. – additional reporting by Sapa

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