Botha dropped from Pistorius murder case

Police chief Riah Phiyega has removed Hilton Botha as lead detective in the Oscar Pistorius murder case.

Top cop Riah Phiyega has removed Hilton Botha as lead detective in the Oscar Pistorius murder case. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Piyega on Thursday announced a new investigating officer was assigned to the high-profile murder case of Oscar Pistorius.

Eyewitness News revealed that the first lead detective, Hilton Botha, was facing seven charges of attempted murder.

The case against Botha was initially dropped but was reinstated on 4 February.

At an urgent press conference this afternoon, Phiyega revealed Botha was pulled off the Pistorius case.

One of the police's most senior detectives Lieutenant-General Vinesh Moonoo will be responsible for the case. Earlier, Eyewitness News was told by police sources that well-known Gauteng investigator Mike van Aardt would help with the case and would be on the team.

Van Aardt worked closely with detective Piet Byleveld and was involved in several high-profile cases while based at the police's Gauteng investigation unit.

It remains to be seen whether police will suspend Botha while the allegations against him are tested in court.

He and two other officers were arrested a year ago after shooting at a minibus taxi carrying passengers. It is also alleged the men were drunk while driving a state vehicle.

Botha has denied the allegations, saying he and the other officers were trying to stop the taxi and did not know there were people inside. He has also denied they were drunk at the time.

The men are expected to return to court in May.

Botha faced a tough day on the stand during the second day of Pistorius's bail application hearing.

He made several concessions, including that there was no evidence to show the athlete's version of events could not have taken place.

Police and the state claim Pistorius intended to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp when he shot her at his Silver Lakes home during the early hours of Valentine's Day.

But the 'Blade Runner' denies this, maintaining he thought he was shooting at an intruder and did not fire at Steenkamp.