State coy about Hilton Botha testifying

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hilton botha INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The State has been coy about revealing whether it will call former investigator Hilton Botha to the stand in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius. File picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - The State has been coy about revealing whether it will call former investigator Hilton Botha to the stand in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius.

Defence advocate Barry Roux began his cross-examination by pointing out the mark on the cubicle door that had appeared after it had been handed over to the police.

Roux inquired if Botha would be called to the stand so as not to repeat too many questions to both of the investigators who were first on the scene after Oscar Pistorius shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

The former station commander at Boschkop police station, Giliam van Rensburg, on Thursday told the court of the condition of Pistorius's Pretoria East home and Steenkamp's body less than an hour after she was killed.

But prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he had not decided if Botha would be called to the stand at a later date.

If Botha is called, the State may have a hard time defending him, after a number of reports - and Friday morning's testimony - revealed the incompetency of the investigation.

Roux suggested that Van Rensburg had been brought in to testify extensively to avoid the State having to call Botha, whose investigative mistakes were widely reported.

Van Rensburg admitted his first statement did not contain all of the evidence, such as the open - and slightly damaged - main bedroom door, as the investigation was handed over and continued.

The defence suggested that Van Rensburg had compared notes with Botha, and could have helped to clear up any errors.

Botha was the one to take Van Rensburg's statement.

Meanwhile, Roux also established that Pistorius was left in the kitchen while Botha and Van Rensburg followed the trail upstairs and were first on the scene in the bloody bathroom.

Van Rensburg said he was 100 percent sure no one else had gone upstairs before they had.

He then presented Van Rensburg's first written statement to Botha and his second taken by new chief investigator, Mike van Aardt.

Roux questioned Van Rensburg about the armed robbery incident he had attended just before the Pistorius incident.

It had occurred at a similar estate, and Roux said even the security of these complexes could be compromised.

Roux also established that Pistorius could barely speak to Van Rensburg when he arrived because he was too distraught.

He then went through Van Rensburg's experiences when he and Botha went upstairs.

Van Rensburg had entered the bedroom, observed an air rifle and baseball bat in the corner and blood spatter leading towards the bathroom.

He spotted a shell casing in the small passage leading from the bedroom to the en suite bathroom.

The two officers pointed out what they had observed to each other.

They arrived in the bathroom, and the floor was covered in splinters, blood and several key pieces of evidence. Roux asked if Botha or Van Rensburg had disturbed anything in the bathroom. Van Rensburg said they had not, and left the bathroom, but noticed the open window.

He went past the main bed and through the sliding door onto the patio to look for any evidence an intruder had entered.

But Roux continued to question if the scene had been tampered with, and asked whether the pair had separated at any point. Van Rensburg admitted there were some points where he could not see Botha.

Earlier, Van Rensburg testified how a watch was stolen from the scene of the crime, and how a ballistics expert handled the firearm used to kill Steenkamp without gloves.

Roux also revealed he planned to call forensic analyst, Colonel Johan Vermeulen to the stand in the near future. Vermeulen was responsible for the analysis of the cubicle door.

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The Star

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