Created on: February 22, 2013
At London 2012, Oscar Pistorius made headlines across the world when he became the first amputee to compete in an Olympic track event. Apart from some slight unpleasantness at the Paralympic Games when he appeared to accuse a rival of an unfair advantage because his blades were longer than they should have been, 2012 was a great year for Pistorius and he seemed to be looking forward to bigger and better things. That all came crashing down around his ears when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in his own home. In a case that has shocked the world, he claims that he thought she was an intruder and was shooting in self-defence.
The prosecution, on the other hand, have refuted this claim, suggesting that Pistorius wilfully murdered Reeva following an argument. The first officer on the scene, and the lead investigator in the case, Hilton Botha, has claimed that Pistorius put his prosthetics on before shooting Reeva, adding to the evidence that the shooting was premeditated. Pistorius has strongly denied this.
Botha’s accusations have since been torn apart in court by the defence; it certainly seems as though there were a number of mistakes made in the police investigation. For example, officers did not wear protective footwear, thereby potentially contaminating the crime scene; they initially missed a bullet cartridge in the bathroom; and they claimed that a substance found in Pistorius’ bedroom was a steroid without completing checks to ensure that it was.
Botha was also pulled apart when he suggested that Pistorius should not be granted bail, to which the judge responded with: “Do you subjectively believe he would take the opportunity, on prostheses as he is, known as he is, to flee South Africa if he was granted bail?”
Even more criticism has been levelled at Botha since then when it was revealed he was involved in the shooting of 7 victims while drunk in 2007. Although the case was dropped, the attempted murder charge has been dramatically reinstated in recent days, meaning that, for a few hours at least, the lead investigator in a murder investigation was a murder suspect himself. According to CNN, he will be replaced by Vinesh Moonoo, the department’s most senior detective, in the hope of getting the prosecution’s case back on track.
Along with the fact that Pistorius has been granted bail, this latest blow to the prosecution may have called untold damage to their case. Whatever happens, the world’s opinion of South Africa’s police service has nose-dived and, unless the new lead investigator manages to pull something irrefutable out of the bag, Pistorius’ legal team may just manage to get the murder charge dropped. Sadly, in amongst all the drama, the fact remains that Reeva Steenkamp is dead and meanwhile, the Steenkamp family have to grieve over an incident that they may never fully come to understand.
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