Pistorius case - Thursday as it happened: Oscar 'meant to kill'

Oscar Pistorius's prosecutors have argued strongly that he should be denied bail ahead of his trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, while lead investigator Hilton Botha has been removed from the case.

Key points:

- Police confirm lead investigator Hilton Botha has been removed from the case due to seven outstanding charges of attempted murder against him

- New lead detective named as Lieutenant General Vinesh Moonoo, "South Africa's top detective". National Commissioner Riah Phiyega described Moonoo as "South Africa police's top detective".

- Bail hearing adjourned until Friday when prosecution will conclude its arguments

- Prosecution lawyer Gerrie Nel argues Pistorius "prone to violence" and "meant to kill" whoever was in his toilet

- Pistorius's defence lawyer cites "disastrous shortcomings" in investigation and "poor quality" of evidence gathered

- Prosecution shows court quotes from Pistorius about spending four months a year at "my house" in Italy, despite earlier denying he owns property there. The house is apparently lent to him

- Nike suspend Pistorius's sponsorship deal


South Africa's National Police Commissioner Riah Phyega has appointed Lieutenant General Vinesh Moonoo as the new man in charge of the murder investigation.

Phyega called Moonoo "South Africa police's top detective" and said that he will "gather a team of highly skilled and experience detectives" to examine every detail of the case.


Police confirm lead investigator Hilton Botha has been removed from the case as he has seven outstanding charges of attempted murder against him. Mike Van Aardt is expected to be revealed as new policeman in charge.

Local media reports described Van Aardt as a "behind the scenes wizard" who has worked on many high-profile cases in South Africa, and works out of the Gauteng province Investigation Unit. Botha was the lead investigator at the local police station which initially handled the case.

Botha's charges relate to an alleged drunken incident in 2009 which he and two other officers were accused of firing shots in an attempt to halt a minivan taxi.

The detective denies that he had been drinking, and says he and two colleagues shot at the tyres of the taxi after the vehicle refused to stop. None of the passengers were apparently harmed. The charges were brought in December 2011 and dropped in March 2012 only to be reinstated in February.

Botha had also been singled out for stinging criticism from Pistorius's defence team over apparent inconsistencies in his testimony.

Photo: Hilton Botha in court (Reuters)


Oscar Pistorius is "prone to violence" and "meant to kill" whoever was in his bathroom toilet when he shot through the door at Reeva Steenkamp, prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the bail hearing in his closing argument before court was adjourned for the day.

"He fired four shots, not one. He meant to kill. On his own version (of events), he's bound to be convicted," said Nel.

Nel claimed that the evidence in the bathroom - Reeva Steenkamp taking her mobile phone to the toilet, that phone and another being found together with a gun on a bath mat, and the three gun cartridges found in the bathroom - show definitively that it was a pre-meditated killing.

He poured scorn on Pistorius's suggestion that he did not notice Steenkamp was not in bed despite having to go past her several times as he armed himself. "Why didn't he ask 'did you hear that noise'?"

The fact that Pistorius declined to give evidence on the stand and gave his story via an affidavit also means that his version of events is "untested", Nel added, before claiming that the athlete's fame should in no way mean that he is not a flight risk.

Magistrate Desmond Nair adjourned the proceedings during Nel's closing arguments due to technical problems at the courthouse. Nel will have an hour to conclude his arguments before Nair makes his ruling on Friday.


Pistorius's defence lawyer Barry Roux finished his concluding argument for the defence by insisting that it would be a "terrible injustice" to deny his client bail. He cited many holes he tried to pick in the state's case.

Roux, who reportedly smiled and appeared satisfied at the conclusion of his argument, tried to play down suggestions made by Nair that the athlete might try to influence witnesses if given back his freedom before a trial.

Roux called reports of threats made by Pistorius "a false charge", and tried to dismiss reports that the runner discharged his gun in a restaurant by referring to it as "vague" and "hearsay".


Roux launched a scathing attack on the police case. He tried to discredit lead investigator Botha for inaccuracies in his testimony on several counts, including his changing estimate on the proximity of witnesses, and his testimony about the trajectory of the bullets that had gone through the toilet door.

The defence lawyer also claimed that the fact Steenkamp's bladder was completely empty, which he claimed proved Pistorius's claim that Steenkamp had gone to the toilet - though Nair interrupted to suggest that the trauma might have accounted for the lack of urine.

Roux claimed that the state should not even have presented the witness statements reporting arguments at Pistorius's house since they were heard from so far away. Nair stepped in to suggest that a blazing row in the dead of night with a balcony door wide open might be audible from several hundred metres - a suggestion that Roux tried to dismiss by claiming that the state had failed to prove whether or not it was audible.


Roux called for the court to bail his client on the basis of "disastrous shortcomings" in the police investigation into the matter. Roux claimed that the state's case rested solely on forensic evidence, none of which contradicts Pistorius's version of events.

He also blasted the "poor quality" of the evidence gathered by lead investigator Hilton Botha as he tried to prove the "exceptional circumstances" that allow for bail to be granted in a schedule six murder case.

Magistrate Desmond Nair called a 30-minute lunch break and told the court that the hearing would resume with a further statement from the defence before the prosecution summed up. Roux then told media that no decision on bail is now expected until Friday since proceedings began late on Thursday.

Photo: Oscar Pistorius's sister Aimee and father Henke confer during a break in court proceedings


Pistorius had strongly denied earlier prosecution claims that he owns a house in Italy, but that claim was undermined by a magazine article shown to the court in which he freely admitted to spending much of his year in Italy.

Prosecution lawyers amended their claims to reflect the fact that the house is actually loaned to Pistorius.

They also read excerpts from the magazine - which featured Pistorius and his sister Aimee on the cover - saying that the local mayor of the town in Italy built a gym and athletics track specifically for Pistorius to train there.

In the same article, Pistorius is quoted as saying: "I spend four months a year in South Africa, have a house in Italy and spend four months a year there. It's quiet and tranquil."


Lead police investigator Hilton Botha was recalled to the witness stand by magistrate Desmond Nair to answer new questions about the case.

Botha told the court that his first language is Afrikaans, leading Nair to imply that the detective would have been better advised dealing with the defence lawyers in his native language.

Nair also took Botha to task for the delay in obtaining phone records for both Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp relating to the night of the killing, pressing Botha into admitting that it "might alter the case" if those records had been in police hands by now. The magistrate criticised police for a "lack of urgency" in making that request.


Pistorius's bail hearing was adjourned after news of Botha's attempted murder charges emerged.

On resumption of the hearing, presiding magistrate Desmond Nair asked for Botha to be brought before the court, apparently to answer questions about the allegations. With the detective not in the building, the court was adjourned for him to be located.

"I can't understand why the case has been reopened. I can only think that it's related to my work on Oscar Pistorius," Botha told eNews South Africa.

"My blood was never tested after the shooting, I was not drunk," he added, explained that the taxi had fish-tailed away while the police were in pursuit of fleeing criminals.

Prosecutors claim that they only heard about the charges on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the athlete was hit by a fresh blow as Nike announced that his sponsorship deal has been suspended.


News breaks that Hilton Botha, the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius case, is facing seven charges of attempted murder dating back to an incident in 2009.

The impending charge was seen as a new setback for a prosecution which had already been shaken on Wednesday as a series of police errors and inconsistencies were pointed out by the defence.

Botha will appear in court in May to answer the charges .