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Ex-cop believes state's case is tight

14 February 2014 - 07:06 By Staff Reporter
South African investigating officer Hilton Botha at the bail hearing of South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria.
South African investigating officer Hilton Botha at the bail hearing of South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius at the Magistrate Court in Pretoria.
Image: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

Hilton Botha is a different man. Exactly a year ago, he was standing in the garage of one of South Africa's greatest sporting sensations, double-amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius.

Pistorius was covered in the blood of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he had shortly before shot dead in the toilet of his luxury Pretoria home.

His reason? He said he mistook her for an intruder.

Days later in a bail hearing that gripped the world, Botha was fiercely cross-examined by Pistorius's lawyer, Kenny Oldwage . He was portrayed as a bumbling policeman whose more than 20 years of experience as a detective amounted to nothing. He was pulled off the case and, less than a month after the murder, had resigned as a detective.

"That was then. I was nervous. The pressure was intense. Now it is different. The challenge for me now is the cross-examination that is coming, which will be very, very tough. There will be things I have to endure, but life has changed a lot."

With his family life and new career blossoming, Botha is upbeat.

He travels a lot in his new job with a construction and security company contracted to mines across South Africa. It is a job that makes him happy and does not involve being woken in the early hours of the morning, as on that fateful StValentine's Day.

"My family gets to see me. I'm much more laid-back.

"Life is good. My life has changed a lot . all our lives have since that day. I have done things that I have never done before, but I am happy.

"Yes, there is an intense three weeks coming up, but the case is good. It is strong: from the prosecution to the investigation; the teams are brilliant at what they do."

With the trial nearing, Botha says he has been thinking about the shooting more and more.

"With Valentine's Day here, I can't help but think about it. Though a year has passed, it is becoming real again."

Botha believes the prosecution will be able to prove its case against Pistorius. The trial begins on March 3.

What will prove or disprove Pistorius's version of events, he said, are the ballistics evidence and witnesses.

"There is going to be a big dust storm around the scene management, with the same questions asked of me, but when [the dust] settles, the question will be on one thing - why? Why was Reeva shot? They will be followed by the 'when', and what the witnesses have to say.

"There are witnesses who know what happened, who heard Reeva scream and who heard the shots. They will be key to this trial.

"I am confident in the prosecution, the investigating team and those overseeing the case . confident in those who processed the crime scene."

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