Top Indian-origin detective to take over as lead investigator in Pistorius' murder case

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 06:00 hrs

The South African police has replaced Hilton Botha, who was the lead investigator in Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's death case, with a team headed by country's top detective, Vinesh Moonoo on Thursday.

Pistorius is charged with murdering Steenkamp after she was found shot dead in his Pretoria home last week, News24 reports.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel began the day on Thursday by telling the Pretoria Magistrate's Court during Pistorius' bail hearing that he was caught unaware when reports surfaced that the investigator in the case, Botha, was himself charged with attempted murder, the paper said.

It emerged that seven attempted murder charges were hanging over Botha's head relating to an incident in 2011 when he allegedly fired shots at a minibus while trying to stop the vehicle, as there were seven people inside at the time, it reported.

The National Prosecuting Authority earlier provisionally withdrew the charges against Botha, but after the initial investigation was completed, it was referred back to the NPA who on Wednesday decided to charge him, the paper added.

By late on Thursday afternoon, Botha had been removed from the case, and the Indian-origin top detective had been tasked with leading the investigation.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega claimed Botha's replacement had more to do with strengthening the police's investigation than the charges hanging over his head.

Phiyega said with the process of the bail application over, she, as the national commissioner of police has appointed a new team to take the matter on a long haul and Lieutenant General Vinesh kumar Moonoo would leading the team, adding investigating officer Botha is not part of that team.

Phiyega added the leader of the team, Moonoo is a top detective, and he will be collaborating with the Gauteng provincial commissioner to put together a formidable team to do this job. (ANI)

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