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Durban - The case against Rocca Bar bouncer Hector Britts, accused of shooting dead Craigh Botha in a scuffle at the nightclub three weeks ago, has taken a new turn after a witness has come forward.
The witness is understood to have watched the fracas unfold and purportedly saw Britts pull the trigger, as reflected in a statement given to police this week.
She is expected to be the State’s key witness and the backbone of the case against Britts, which is hampered by the lack of physical evidence tying him to the shooting.
Britts is alleged to have shot Botha in the stomach when the two grappled while Botha was being escorted from the nightspot. It is alleged Botha argued with his wife, Cindy, before the shooting over an allegation that she had sex with an unknown man in the club’s restroom, a claim she has vehemently denied.
Botha died in hospital of multiple organ failure following major surgery, a week after the shooting incident.
The Botha family confirmed they had hired private investigator Brad Nathanson to pursue the case.
A source close to the investigation, who could not be named, said the woman had come forward after witnessing the shooting.
“This woman is a mother of two and was at the nightclub on the night in question. She had indicated that she witnessed the shooting and saw Hector Britts pull the trigger.
“She is going to be a key witness in the case and actually a successful prosecution will rest mostly on her testimony,” he said. The source said the woman feared for her life and those of her children, and had initially been reluctant to come forward.
Britts was released on bail of R10 000 in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, when he denied owning a gun and shooting Botha while they traded blows, according to an affidavit read out in court in support of his bail application.
In it, Britts, 33, a father of five, denied owning a firearm.
“No firearm was seized from me. I did not shoot the deceased, who was extremely aggressive on the night of this incident and wanted to assault his ex-wife inside the nightclub. She sought refuge in the VIP section and when the deceased once again approached her and wanted to assault her and another male she was speaking to, I approached him together with the owner of the nightclub,” he said.
“As the club owner was escorting the deceased out, he passed me and suddenly attacked me by throwing a flurry of punches at me. I was taken by complete surprise and did not even have an opportunity to retaliate. It was at this stage that somebody shot the deceased, I don’t know who shot him. I would be most surprised if any of the witnesses indicate that they saw me in possession of a firearm and that they witnessed me shooting the deceased.”
He acknowledged that the State’s opposition to bail stemmed from his having been charged many times for offences involving violence.
The Sunday Tribune has obtained a list of the criminal cases Britts has faced.
* Point CAS 15/03/2008 – Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
* Brighton Beach CAS 404/03/2008 – House robbery – withdrawn.
* Point CAS 492/10/2008 – Assault common – withdrawn.
* Sydenham CAS 259/02/2009 – House robbery – withdrawn.
* Newlands CAS 212/09/2009 – Assault common – withdrawn.
* Durban Central CAS 425/03/2010 – Discharging of a firearm – withdrawn.
* Newlands CAS 45/06/2011 – Assault common – withdrawn.
* Greenwood Park CAS 428/10/2011 – Attempted murder – withdrawn.
* Newlands CAS 185/01/2012 – Shoplifting – withdrawn.
* Newlands CAS 147/03/2012 – Assault GBH – withdrawn.
* Durban Central CAS 1096/05/2013 – Assault common – pending.
Britts has a previous conviction for fraud.
He said in his affidavit that the previous charges of assault occurred when he was working as security at Groove nightclub in Point and one incident involved an argument with his wife.
He said his work entailed dealing with drunk and aggressive patrons and had resulted in him being charged for assault on other occasions.
Britts has been employed as a fireman with the eThekwini Municipality for the past 13 years and earns R16 000 a month. He works for extra money managing security in the VIP section at Rocca Bar and is paid R500 a shift, which helps support his wife, five children and his mother.
He said, “I love my children very much and play an active role in their lives.”
Three of his children live with him and his wife, the other two live with their mothers elsewhere in Durban.
Warrant Officer Selvan Naidoo, the investigating officer, opposed bail. He said in a brief interview with (Craigh) Botha at Albert Luthuli’s trauma intensive care unit, Botha confirmed that “Mr Hector Britts shot Mr Botha”.
He opposed bail, saying it was a “prevalent offence, a serious charge which will attract severe punishment”.
Naidoo said previous charges (against Britts) spoke “volumes of the applicant’s hardened and violent character”.