Police Brig. Neville Malila said Thursday that detective Hilton Botha is scheduled to appear in court in May on seven counts of attempted murder.
Botha is accused of being drunk in a government vehicle when he allegedly opened fire at a mini-bus taxi with two other officers, says correspondent Emma Hurd, reporting for CBS News. The vehicle had seven people in it, authorities said.
Prosecutors: Detective should be dropped from case
South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority acknowledged Thursday that the timing of attempted murder charges against a policeman leading the investigation into Oscar Pistorius was "totally weird" and that the policeman should be dropped from the case against the world-famous athlete.
Bulewa Makeke, spokeswoman for the NPA, said it was a decision for police and not prosecutors whether to take detective Hilton Botha off the case that has riveted the world's attention and is bringing scrutiny on South Africa's justice system. Botha testified on Wednesday in the case, acknowledging that nothing in Pistorius' account of the fatal Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend contradicted what police had discovered. That testimony in the double amputee's bail hearing marked a setback for the prosecution.
Botha was summoned by the magistrate on Thursday after police said charges have been reinstated against him in connection with a 2011 shooting incident in which he and two other officers allegedly fired at a minibus.
"Is he going to be dropped from the case? I don't know. I think the right thing would be for him to be dropped," Makeke said outside Pretoria Magistrate's Court shortly before Pistorius' bail hearing went into a third day. "Obviously there will be consultations between the two (police and prosecutors) to determine what is the best course of action."
Magistrate Desmond Nair questioned Botha over delays in processing records from phones found in Pistorius' house following the killing of 29--year-old Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors have charged Pistorius, a Paralympian who also competed in the London games last year, with premeditated murder. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder.
Botha also testified Thursday that he had investigated a 2009 complaint against Pistorius by a woman who claimed the athlete had assaulted her. He said that Pistorius had not hurt her and that the woman had actually injured herself when she kicked a door at Pistorius' home.
The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, said in court Thursday that they were not aware that the charges against Botha had been recently reinstated when he testified against Pistorius. Police say that Botha and two other police officers fired at a minibus they were trying to stop and will appear in court in May to face seven counts of attempted murder.
Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend.
Pistorius' defense team on Thursday began to pick apart the state's case against him.
"The poor quality of the evidence offered by investigative officer Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings of the state's case," Roux said Thursday as Pistorius sat calmly in the dock looking down at his hands.
Malila said police learned Wednesday, the same day that Botha appeared in court to oppose Pistorius' bail application, that the charges against Botha and the two others had been reinstated by the Director of Public Prosecutions. They were initially dropped following the shooting incident.
Malila said police were waiting for details from the Botha case file from the prosecutor.
Medupe Simasiku, the spokesman for the prosecutors charging Pistorius with premeditated murder, said he couldn't say how the charges against Botha would affect their case against Pistorius.
It was clear they could undermine it, however.
"The (Pistorius) prosecutors were not aware of those charges (against Botha)," Simasiku, of the National Prosecution Agency, said. "We are calling up the information so we can get the details of the case. From there we can take action and see if we remove him from the investigation or if he stays."
South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority acknowledged that the timing of attempted murder charges against a police detective leading the investigation into Oscar Pistorius is "totally weird" and that he should dropped from the case against Pistorius.
Bulewa Makeke, spokeswoman for the NPA, said Thursday that detective Hilton Botha should be replaced, but that it's a decision for police and not prosecutors.
"Our police service seems to be very corrupt and not very efficient at what they do," Johannesburg resident Tracy Sham told correspondent Hurd.
Botha was also the lead investigator in an assault claim against Pistorius in 2009. Pistorius' lawyers said police arrested the athlete and held him overnight at a police station and said they will pursue a lawsuit against police for wrongful arrest.
Separately, the new charges have cost Pistorius an endorsement deal, at least for now. Nike says it has "suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius. We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."
Botha was back on the stand Thursday.
The prosecution's current case against Pistorius began to unravel Wednesday with revelations of a series of police blunders and Botha's admission that authorities have no evidence challenging the double-amputee Olympian's claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally.
Pistorius faces a charge of premeditated murder.
Prosecution in Pistorius case admits error over "testosterone" testimony
Cop: Screams heard after Pistorius' 1st shot
Oscar Pistorius: His account of the fatal shooting
Botha's often confused testimony left prosecutors rubbing their heads in frustration as he misjudged distances and said testosterone -- banned for professional athletes in some cases -- was found at the scene, only to be later contradicted by the prosecutor's office.
The second day of what was supposed to be a mere bail hearing almost resembled a full-blown trial for the 26-year-old runner, with his lawyer, Barry Roux, tearing into Botha's testimony step-by-step during cross-examination.
Police, Botha acknowledged, left a 9 mm slug from the barrage that killed Reeva Steenkamp inside a toilet and lost track of illegal ammunition found inside the house. And the detective himself walked through the crime scene without wearing protective shoe covers, potentially contaminating the area.
Authorities, Roux asserted, were selectively taking "every piece of evidence to try to extract the most possibly negative connotation and present it to the court."
The case has riveted South Africa, with journalists and the curious crowding into the brick-walled courtroom where Pistorius, dubbed the Blade Runner for his prosthetic legs, faces a charge of premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day slaying.
Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and shot her out of fear, while prosecutors say he planned the killing and attacked her as she cowered behind a locked bathroom door.
The day seemed to start out well for the prosecution, with Botha offering new details of the shooting that appeared to call into question Pistorius' account of the moments leading up to the 29-year-old model's death.
Ballistic evidence, he said, showed the bullets that killed her had been fired from a height, supporting the prosecution's assertion that Pistorius was wearing prosthetic legs when he took aim at the bathroom door. The athlete has maintained he was standing only on his stumps, and felt vulnerable and frightened as he opened fire from a low position.
Projecting a diagram of the bedroom and the bathroom, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said it showed Pistorius had to walk past his bed to get to the bathroom and could not have done so without seeing that Steenkamp was not asleep there.
"There's no other way of getting there," Nel said in disputing Pistorius' claim that he had no idea Steenkamp was no longer in bed when he pumped four bullets into the bathroom door, striking her with three.
Botha backed the prosecutor up, saying the holster for Pistorius' 9 mm pistol was found under the left side of the bed, where Steenkamp slept, and it would have been impossible for Pistorius to get the gun without checking to see if she was there.
"I believe that he knew that Reeva was in the bathroom and he shot four shots through the door," the detective said.
Botha described how bullets struck Steenkamp in the head and shattered her right arm and hip, eliciting sobs from Pistorius, who held his head in hands.
However, when asked if Steenkamp's body showed "any pattern of defensive wounds" or bruising from an assault, Botha said "no." He again responded "no" when asked if investigators found anything inconsistent with Pistorius' version of events, though he later said nothing contradicted the police version, either.
Testimony began with the prosecutor telling the court that, before the shooting, a neighbor heard "nonstop" shouting between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. at Pistorius' upscale home in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria.
However, Botha later said under cross-examination that the witness was in a house 600 yards away, possibly out of earshot. He cut that estimate in half when questioned again by the prosecutor, as confusion reigned for much of his testimony.
At one point, Botha told the court police found syringes and two boxes of testosterone in Pistorius' bedroom -- testimony the prosecution later withdrew, saying it was too early to identify the substance, which was still being tested.
"It is not certain (what it is) until the forensics" are completed, Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecution Agency, told The Associated Press. It's not clear if it was "a legal or an illegal medication for now."
The defense also disputed the claim. "It is an herbal remedy," Roux said. "It is not ... a banned substance."
Still, Botha offered potentially damaging details about Pistorius' past, saying the athlete was once involved in an accidental shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg and asked someone else "to take the rap."
The runner also threatened men on two separate occasions, Botha said, allegedly telling one he'd "break his legs."
The detective said police found two iPhones in Pistorius' bathroom and two BlackBerrys in his bedroom, and none had been used to phone for help. Guards at the gated community did call the athlete, Botha said, and all he said was "I'm all right," as he wept uncontrollably.
Roux later suggested that a fifth phone, not collected by the police, was used by Pistorius to call for help.The question now is whether Botha's troubled testimony will be enough to convince Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair to keep Pistorius in prison until trial. While Pistorius faces the harshest bail requirements under South African law, the magistrate has said he would consider loosening them based on testimony in the hearing. Final arguments were scheduled for Thursday.