While Oscar Pistorius awaits results of a bond hearing, the lead detective in his case has been removed to face charges against himself. Detective Hilton Botha was already facing renewed attempted murder charges from a 2011 incident when he was assigned to the Pistorius case. He is now relieved of his duties. A Feb. 21 Huffington Post article reports that Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo will take over the investigation. The media is calling Moonoo South Africa’s “top police detective”.
A Feb. 21 UK Guardian article described the 2011 incident when Botha and two other officers were accused of firing at a minibus taxi that was carrying seven passengers. Each officer is charged with the full seven counts of attempted murder.
Police reinstated the charges against Botha and the other officers on February 4, ten days before Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, 29 year old Reeva Steenkamp. The police had scheduled a hearing for Botha and the others in May 2013. This brings up questions as to why police assigned Botha to such a high profile shooting case.
When questioned about Botha’s appointment, Police spokesperson Neville Malila said, “[Botha] is innocent until proven guilty. [He] was chosen by the station to do the investigation due to the fact that he is a senior."
In 2011, South African news reported that Botha and the other officers claimed they were pursuing someone who allegedly dismembered a woman and dumped her body parts down a drain.
Botha had a terrible time in court on Wednesday. Some of his most serious claims against Pistorius were ripped apart in the South African court of magistrate Desmond Nair. According to an earlier, Feb 20 UK Guardian article, Botha “ultimately had to concede that he had not found anything at the scene inconsistent with the athlete's version of events.”
Botha was also forced to admit that he called a substance “steroids” when he was not certain.
Pistorius has retained defense advocate Barry Roux who has defended several high profile and controversial defendants. Some will make comparisons to Johnny Cochran, O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney.