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Oscar Pistorius lead detective Hilton Botha dropped from case

By Emcfarnon  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

Reeva Steenkamp

Reeva Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, died after being shot three times at Pistorius' home in the early hours of February 14

The lead officer in the Oscar Pistorius case who, it has emerged, is facing attempted murder charges, has been replaced.

Detective Hilton Botha, who yesterday gave evidence at the athlete’s bail hearing, is charged with seven counts of attempted murder after allegedly opening fire on a minibus taxi loaded with passengers.

The long-standing policeman was allegedly involved in a shooting two years ago.

Police spokesman Neville Malila today said Det Botha and two other officers were due to appear in court in May.

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The charges against Botha had originally been dropped but were reinstated.

This afternoon Commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega said the South African Police Service (SAPS) had received feedback from state prosecutors about Botha only on Wednesday.

She described him as an "experienced detective" who was not yet facing any criminal charges.

However, she said she was using her authority as national police chief to ask Lieutenant General Vineshkumar Moonoo, the country's leading detective, to take over the Pistorius case.

South African athlete Pistorius, 26, denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29.

Steenkamp, a model and law graduate, died after being shot three times at Pistorius' home in the early hours of February 14.

The athlete's defence lawyer Barry Roux asked for the charge of premeditated murder to be downgraded, and said revelations about Botha undermined the prosecution's case.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court Pistorius should not be granted bail simply because he is famous.

The athlete's bail hearing got underway on Tuesday. A ruling is expected on Friday.

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