22 Feb 2013

Detective in Pistorius inquiry dropped from case

6:54 am on 22 February 2013

South Africa's top detective is to take over the Oscar Pistorius inquiry after it emerged the current lead officer faces attempted murder charges.

Detective Hilton Botha, who has faced fierce questioning at Mr Pistorius' bail hearing, was allegedly involved in a shooting in 2011.

He has been removed pending the result of an investigation into seven counts of attempted murder.

Mr Pistorius, a Paralympic champion, denies the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, at his home early on 14 February.

During the bail hearing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Detective Botha had to acknowledge that no evidence had been found to discredit the athlete's version of what happened.

In an extraordinary turn of events, it has been confirmed that Mr Botha is facing charges of attempted murder in relation to an incident that occurred in 2011, the BBC reports.

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

Mr Malila said it was alleged that while driving a state-owned vehicle the three had opened fire on a minibus taxi loaded with passengers in 2011.

Charges against Mr Botha over the taxi minibus shooting had been dropped but the National Prosecuting Authority told Reuters they were reinstated on 4 February.