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'Removing Pistorius cop not embarrassing'

Riah Phiyega says a court must decide if detective Hilton Botha has damaged the Oscar Pistorius case.

Hilton Botha

JOHANNESBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega on Friday said a court must decide whether the former lead detective in the Oscar Pistorius investigation damaged the state's case.

Hours after Eyewitness News exclusively revealed that Warrant Officer Hilton Botha was facing seven charges of attempted murder, Phiyega pulled him off the case and replaced him with a team being led by South Africa's top detective.

She denied the affair had embarrassed the police and the country.

Botha is due in court in May, to answer to the charges related to a 2011 incident in which he and two other officers shot at a minibus taxi carrying seven passengers.

Phiyega said the warrant officer would not be suspended and is an experienced policeman who is innocent until proven guilty.

“We do not lynch people, we’re not pre-judging anything.”

Phiyega said the court hearing the Pistorius bail application would decide whether Botha did his job.

“I’m not a judge, we are not magistrates. We can’t say it was a sterling performance or not a sterling performance.”

While the National Prosecuting Authority said the charges against Botha were reinstated two weeks before the shooting at Pistorius’ home in Pretoria, Phiyega said they were only notified on Wednesday.

With more than 30 years of service, Divisional Commissioner of Detective services Lieutenant General Vineshkumar Moonoo will now lead the investigation.

Meanwhile, it is likely Pistorius will find out today if he will be granted bail after shooting and killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day.

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