Johannesburg - The former lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius case told The Star this morning that foreign media had offered $50 000 (R458 000) for a photograph of the toilet door that the athlete shot through when he killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day.
Hilton Botha said police were being offered extraordinary amounts of money for pictures of the crime scene.
The former policeman, whose resignation from the SAPS was made public last night, confirmed that an officer at Boschkop police station was offered $50 000 for a picture of the door.
Pistorius has testified that after he shot through the locked door, he tried to kick it open and finally smashed it with a cricket bat so that he could get to his girlfriend.
Botha said the offer had been made by an international media house to “an officer Van der Merwe” who worked on the crime scene. He did not know the officer’s first name.
But it wasn’t just the international media that were clamouring for pictures of the inside of Pistorius’s house and the crime scene. Local media were also offering money to police officers.
Botha said he and other officers who worked on the case were offered between R5 000 and R10 000 a picture by local media houses.
He declined to name which media were involved.
“If that happens (the leaking of photographs), both the State and the defence’s cases could be destroyed,” said Botha.
“I decided at that point that all pictures should be sent off to forensics immediately. That way we had no pictures and there could be no leak.”
He said Pistorius’s house had been locked since the shooting, and police officers had been stationed outside to protect the crime scene.
The property was still a crime scene.
“But with that kind of money, you just never know. Someone could get past or the officers go to eat something and you just don’t know what could happen,” he said, referring to the possibility of a photographer bypassing security and getting on to the scene.
It emerged on Thursday that Botha had resigned from the police force and had gone into the private security sector.
Brigadier Neville Malila of the SAPS Gauteng provincial office confirmed that Botha resigned on Wednesday with immediate effect.
“We’ve accepted the resignation,” said Malila. “We’re not going into the reasons.”
A relative of Botha, who did not wish to be named, said the former officer was taking up another job.
“He has found a better job, and now he can afford to send his son to university next year,” he said.
“He’s a loss control manager in charge of security for a construction company.”
He declined to name the company or comment further.
Botha was a detective at the Boschkop police station in Pretoria. He was the lead investigator in the Pistorius murder case.
Pistorius has not been allowed to return to his home after being granted bail because it’s still a crime scene.
He is staying with his uncle in Waterkloof.
During Pistorius’s bail application it emerged that Botha was facing attempted murder charges arising from a shooting involving people in a taxi in 2011.
The charges were dropped but apparently reinstated last month, and Botha is due to appear in court in connection with this in May. He has denied the claims. After the attempted murder charges emerged, Botha was replaced on the Pistorius investigation.
Malila said the attempted murder case would not be affected by Botha’s resignation.
When asked whether any disciplinary or other charges were being investigated against Botha arising from allegations of bungling in the Pistorius matter, Malila said there were no criminal charges. If there had been any internal investigation, that ended with Botha’s resignation.