Saturday, February 23, 2013

South Africa: Prosecution's Performance at Pistorius Hearing Disappointing, a Disservice to Steenkamp Family

COMMENT: It is safe to say that the prosecution's performance during the hearing this week as precursor to the Oscar Pistorius murder trial was less that stellar.

The sad part is that they had a reasonably good case from the start, but their lead investigator, Hilton Botha, not only performed badly for the prosecution, but didn't do particularly well under cross-examination either.

To make matters worse, after the hearing Botha was removed by SAPS as the lead investigator because the prosecution for some strange reason did not know that attempted murder charges against Botha and two other officers had been reinstated.

Additionally, given the grief and loss sustained by the family of Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was shot and killed in Pistorius' mansion on February 14, regardless of motive, challenges what any family should be forced to endure.

Although the prosecution had intended to oppose bail for Pistorius, their performance during the hearing resulted in the Chief Magistrate approving bail for Oscar Pistorius.

Subsequently, Pistorius left the hearing yesterday (February 22) after posting a cash bond of 100,000 Rand (about $11,200). Another 900,000 Rand (about $100,800) is due by March 1.

Fortunately, there are stiff conditions to  Pistorius' release: He cannot return to the home where the shooting happened, he must surrender his passport and cannot visit any airport in South Africa. He also cannot drink alcohol and must report to a police station every Monday and Friday.

Indeed, the prosecutors handling the Pistorius' premeditated murder investigation must now go into damage-control mode and find a lead investigator who has the integrity and homicide investigative skills to salvage the government's case who can perform well on the witness stand.

Additionally, the prosecution needs every bit of luck they can find, in addition to having the defense make a few mistakes, which up until now, have been few.