Pistorius in court: Live Report
- Published: 21/02/2013 at 05:43 PM
- Online news:
1547 GMT: "With the process of the bail application over, we at the SAPS (South African Police Service) are now ready to position ourselves for the long-term investigation," says police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega.
South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius appears on February 21, 2013 at the Magistrate's Court in Pretoria.
1545 GMT: State prosecutors are happy with detective Botha's removal from the case, National Prosecution Authority spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke tells AFP.
"It's in the interest of credible justice."
1542 GMT: The police commissioner confirms detective Botha is under internal investigation over the alleged murder attempts, but said there would not be a rush to suspend him amid the media attention on the Pistorius case.
"We do not lynch people," she says.
1541 GMT: The police chief denies that yesterday's demolition of several aspects of their case was in any way embarrassing to the force.
"There is nothing embarrassing for us," she says.
"I am not a judge. We are not magistrates. We can't say it was respecting the process, not respecting the process," she says.
1531 GMT: The police chief says Moonoo is the South African police's "top detective" and the case will "receive attention at the national level".
1520 GMT: The new detective on the case is being named as lieutenant general Vineshkumar Moonoo in media reports.
1506 GMT: Police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega announces that the case has been assigned to a lieutenant general.
"We recognise the significance, the importance... and the severity of the matter," he says.
1503 GMT: So it looks as though Hilton Botha, the detective facing revived charges of attempted murder over a 2011 incident, has been removed from the Pistorius case.
He was widely criticised yesterday after the defence was able to demolish parts of his evidence, including a claim that testosterone and syringes were found in Pistorius' home. Police later admitted they weren't sure what the substance was.
On the same day -- Wednesday -- police were informed that once-dropped charges against Botha were breing revived.
1451 GMT: NEW DETECTIVE ASSIGNED TO PISTORIUS CASE: POLICE COMMISSIONER
1436 GMT: Police commissioner General Mangwashi Phiyega is to address the press shortly, with about 50 journalists waiting for him at the Pretoria police academy.
1406 GMT: The court will be back in session tomorrow at 0800 GMT. But before that is the police press conference about detective Hilton Botha -- the police officer who gave contradictory evidence yesterday, and who himself now faces unrelated charges of attempted murder in a revived case.
1404 GMT: PISTORIUS HEARING ADJOURNS UNTIL FRIDAY, WITH NO BAIL DECISION.
1402 GMT: Oscar Pistorius looks downwards and sometimes shakes with silent crying, reports AFP's Johannes Myburgh from court. It's not clear whether Pistorius is taking in the proceedings, he says.
1357 GMT: "The only reason you fire four shots is to kill," says the prosecutor.
1353 GMT: Prosecutor Nel says that if Oscar slept on the left side of the bed, he would have to have passed Reeva twice on the way towards the bathroom. Instead, he even grabbed his gun without looking at the bed where she should have been, says the prosecutor.
"You want to protect her but you don't look at her?" he says.
1349 GMT: Nel says Pistorius was a man "ready and willing to fire and kill."
1337 GMT: Nel says that Oscar Pistorius' team are arguing that he needs his passport to compete internationally, but he will surrender it for trial.
That "shows a total lack of realisation of what he has done," says the prosecutor.
1333 GMT: In South African law, says chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel, you can be charged with murder if you kill someone without being in immediate danger, even if you argue you acted in self-defence,
So if Pistorius shot at someone he believed to be a burglar in the toilet, he could still be found guilty of murder, he says.
1327 GMT: Oscar Pistorius is crying again. He shudders with his head bent, then is still.
1325 GMT: Even if Oscar Pistorius didn't plan to kill Reeva Steenkamp, he still intended killing the burglar, says chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
"No court will ever accept that the applicant acted in self-defence," he says.
1324 GMT: Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel says Oscar Pistorius should not receive special treatment -- "I am Oscar Pistorius. I am a world renowned athlete. Can I get bail".
"No, we have to look at the person," says Nel.
1317 GMT: The court is back in session, with the state starting its argument against Pistorius getting bail.
1314 GMT: Another break in the court session.
1304 GMT: The magistrate asks whether there will be "a level of shock" if Pistorius is released on bail.
Barry Roux, Pistorius' lawyer, says there will be "a level of shock in this country if he is not released". Murmurs of assent from Pistorius' family.
1259 GMT: The magistrate lists previous incidents involving Pistorius -- the dropped assault charge, the threat to "break the legs" of another man, and an incident in which he nearly shot a friend at a restaurant when a pistol accidentally went off.
That incident took place less than a month before the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp, local media reported on Monday.
Pistorius was looking at a friend's gun in the Johannesburg restaurant when it accidentally went off, Kevin Lerena told the Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper.
1251 GMT: Our reporter Johannes Myburgh describes as a "frenzy" the five minutes after the judge spoke of a "threat" to the court -- but now proceedings are continuing...
1245 GMT: The court is back in session, with no explanation offered for that pause.
Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, had been saying how the athlete and Reeva Steenkamp had a loving relationship, and the state had not supplied proof that they fought on the night of the shooting.
1243 GMT: According to reports on Twitter, the court has been suddenly adjourned due to what the magistrate says is a "threat". More on this shortly.
1225 GMT: South African police are to hold a press conference at 4pm local time -- that's 1400 GMT -- to discuss the Pistorius case and revived charges against police detective Hilton Botha.
1223 GMT: Police have been unable to disprove Oscar Pistorius' account of his phone calls to estate security and medics after the shooting, says his lawyer.
1219 GMT: To recap, for anyone joining us now -- Oscar Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, is picking apart the prosecution case point by point, aiming to back up the defence claim the shooting was an accident, and hence support the immediate goal of securing bail for the athlete as he awaits his trial.
1216 GMT: Pistorius' lawyer says that too long a period passed between the witness' overhearing an argument between 2 and 3am, and the shooting, given that Pistorius made emergency calls at 3.19am.
The period of silence in between doesn't make sense, he says.
1213 GMT: Roux, Pistorius' lawyer, dismisses the account of a woman said by the prosecutor to have heard "non-stop fighting" from his home.
"It was not a neighbour. It's a distance away," says Roux. The statement as filed "creates the impression it was a person in hearing distance", he adds.
Yesterday Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that a woman who lives in the same highly secured Pretoria complex "heard talking that sounded like non-stop fighting from two to three in the morning", hours before she was killed.
Police said that another witness reported hearing gunshots, screams and then more shots.
1207 GMT: Pistorius' lawyer again brings up the medical evidence that Steenkamp's bladder was empty when she died, consistent with her having gone to the toilet (Pistorius says he heard someone in the bathroom and mistook her for an intruder).
The magistrate, Desmond Nair, asks whether Steenkamp might have used the toilet an hour earlier, for example.
But lawyer Barry Roux says: "There was no urine in her bladder. There was not a build up of a little bit of urine."
1205 GMT: Evidence on the direction shots were fired was "tendered by the state as an allegation of planned murder", says Roux, Pistorius' lawyer.
"If it was a burglar he would not enter the bathroom to 1.5m but would keep a safe distance, more or less at the entrance of the bathroom."
Police detective Hilton Botha admiited under cross-examination that "the applicant's version was more consistent with the spent shell casing in the passage."
1159 GMT: Pistorius lawyer, Barry Roux, says police admitted that one spent shell casing in the passage suggested that Pistorius was at the door of the baownstairs. throom, not inside it, as he fired.
Another three casings were found inside the bathroom (the toilet, where Steenkamp was shot, was behind another door within the bathroom).
The prosecution has arged that Pistorius entered the bathroom and positioned himself to shoot from the best angle -- while the defence says he fired from the doorway of the bathroom, believing an intruder to be inside.
1157 GMT: Pistorius' lawyer notes that he took steps to save Steenkamp's life after the shooting: he phoned security officers and medics, and carried her d Also, he says, Pistorius could not have known the toilet door was locked.
1149 GMT: On the suggestion of a fight between Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp before the killing, Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux, says: "That is speculative at best -- that was subsequently exposed as without substance."
Police had quoted a witness as saying they heard fighting in Pistorius's house on the night of the murder, with investigator Hilton Botha telling the court that the loud argumnet was overheard from 600 metres (2000 feet) away.
But he later backtracked, saying it was in fact 300 metres away.
1141 GMT: Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux notes the high crime rate in South Africa.
1138 GMT: The court is now back in session.
1137 GMT: We've heard comparatively little on detailed forensic evidence so far, for example on the angles of the bullets. This may not come out until Pistorius' full trial.
1125 GMT: Pistorius' lawyer also said the state would have to rely on forensic evidence in deciding whether to grant him bail, since it hasn't called witnesses at this stage.
The lawyer, Barry Roux, established yesterday that the crime scene might have been sullied.
Police investigator Hilton Botha admitted that investigators had walked over the crime scene without protective boots, and had overlooked a bullet that hit the toilet bowl -- later discovered by the defence's forensic team.
1115 GMT: Just before the break, Pistorius' lawyer made another point: if this was a premeditated murder, why did Pistorius kill Reeva Steenkamp through the door of the bathroom while she was in there?
He could have killed her in the bedroom or anywhere else, says Roux.
Pistorius has said he mistakenly believed Steenkamp to be an intruder in his home, prompting the shooting.
1114 GMT: After the defence finishes its concluding arguments, next up is the prosecution summary. It's possible, but unlikely, that the magistrate will rule on whether Pistorius gets bail today.
1111 GMT: Authorities have rejected claims Pistorius is getting special treatment. They say he is being kept in police holding cells, rather than a prison, to allow him access to his legal team.
"There is no celebrity status (at play) here. It's not a common practice, but it is a decision of the court," spokesman for the prosecutions authority Medupi Simaku told SAPA news agency.
1109 GMT: Pistorius is being accorded special treatment by being kept in a holding cell rather than one of South Africa's overcrowded, violent prisons, the Women's League of the ruling party says.
Members of the African National Congress Women's League said in a statement: "The ANCWL would like to register our dissatisfaction at this special treatment that Pistorius is getting and would like prosecutors to take this issue up.
"Unlike other alleged offenders who are in prison Pistorius's family are permitted to visit him at all hours not just prescribed visiting hours as would be the case in prison."
1103: So far, this case has served to put the South African police force -- widely seen as corrupt and overwhelmed by crime -- in the spotlight almost as much as Pistorius.
With 42 murders a day in South Africa, police face a tough task. The force was accused of brutality after the Marikana mine tragedy in August where they shot 34 striking workers in a few minutes.
But Antony Altbeker, author of Fruit of a Poisoned Tree -- the true story of a forensic fiasco that a saw a murder suspect go free in 2007 -- cautions that the apparent weaknesses of the police case might be down to the quality of Pistorius' lawyer.
"I think good lawyers can often make police seem foolish," he told AFP earlier.
1059 GMT: Court proceedings have adjourned for lunch, says our reporter Johannes Myburgh.
1051 GMT: The prosecution has quoted a magazine article in which Pistorius says "I have a house" in Italy as evidence that he owns property abroad and might try to flee there.
But his coach, Ampie Louw, tells AFP this property is actually a training facility built by the local government and a hotel. According to him, the athlete goes there regularly to train and unwind.
"We all call it home...but the hotel has been a family business for years," he says.
1049 GMT: Pistorius himself is sitting with his head bowed and eyes closed. He has been more composed in court yesterday and today, after initial appearances during which he cried unconsolably.
1045 GMT: The prosecution wants to charge Pistorius with premeditated murder. But lawyer Roux says the state "should have known the available evidence did not support the existence of a plan.
"The poor quality of the evidence of investigating officer Botha further exposed ... disastrous shortcomings in the state's case," he says.
The defence wants the case to be treated as one of a lesser offence.
1042 GMT: "The evidence did not even show that the applicant committed a murder," says Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux.
Roux, a veteran of the Johannesburg bar, was able to demolish many aspects of detective Botha's evidence yesterday.
1037 GMT: The court in Pretoria is debating whether Pistorius does indeed own a house in Italy, which could affect whether he is considered to be a flight risk.
His lawyer, Barry Roux, says: "He does not own any property abroad."
But chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel quotes Pistorius from an article in Sarie, an Afrikaans magazine, saying: "The past two years I have a house in Gemona, Italy, and I spend four months in a year there. I have my own athletics track and gym."
1033 GMT: Pistorius' PR agency says his family will be using his official website, , for updates on the case and messages of support.
"We will issue at least two statements a day, in order to provide the media with the freshest news, taking into account the time differences," said Janine Hills, the chief executive of Vuma corporate reputation management.
The newly overhauled site no longer shows the runner in branded clothing of his sponsors, but includes press releases and witness statements.
1031 GMT: More on that decision by Nike to suspend its contract with Pistorius: Nike ads featuring him on local TV were pulled a week ago as news of the shooting emerged.
And an advert for Nike that showed Pistorius setting off from the starting blocks with the line "I am the bullet in the chamber" was removed from the runner's personal website.
1027 GMT: Detective Botha is questioned by the magistrate about police handling of the case, after he gave contradictory evidence in court yesterday and admitted to mistakes at the crime scene.
"I'm sure it could have been handled better," Botha admits.
1026 GMT: Pistorius is sitting with his head bowed, looking as though he has lost weight, reports AFP's Johannes Myburgh from court. He is wearing a black suit and blue shirt.
1021 GMT: Police detective Botha, speaking for the prosecution, speaks on the issue of a propensity to violence.
He cites the case in which Pistorius spent a night in jail after an allegation of assault -- but police decided at the time that there wasn't a case against him.
There have also been other claims against him, including that he threatened to break another man's legs in 2012 in a dispute over a woman.
1017 GMT: The court is back on the issue of whether Pistorius should be bailed ahead of his trial.
The magistrate is speaking -- saying the court must consider the risk of Pistorius fleeing, plus any "propensity for violence".
That question has already led to extensive discussion in court of the killing itself, while the defence has ridiculed the idea that a world-famous athlete who relies on prosthetic legs would attempt to flee the country.
1015 GMT: Some debate over language here, as the magistrate says Botha should have testified in Afrikaans, since he's Afrikaner. Botha says he prefers English.
1013 GMT: Oscar Pistorius is in the courtroom.
1011 GMT: Hilton Botha, the lead detective on the case now embroiled in his own murder charges, was late to the court, with photographers swarming around the Pistorius family during the wait, reports AFP's Johannes Myburgh at Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
But Botha has now been found and is now in court.
1000 GMT: US sportswear giant Nike has suspended its contract with Pistorius, the company's UK and Ireland spokesman says.
"Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius," the spokesman tells AFP.
"We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."
WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the third day of Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing over the fatal Valentine's Day shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Prosecutors say the early-morning shooting was a premeditated killing, but the defence argues it was an accident.
But the case has today taken an unexpected turn, as it emerged that the lead detective investigating murder charges against Pistorius is himself facing seven attempted murder charges.
Hilton Bothawas in 2011 charged with seven counts of attempted murder after he and two workmates allegedly opened fire on the tyres of a mini-van which had seven passengers.
The case was dropped -- but has now been reinstated. Police were told about the decision to revive the case on Wednesday, in a move Botha immediately said was linked to his work on the Pistorius case.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency