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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Justin Cartwright Comments on Police Incompetence in Oscar Pistorius Case

Justin Cartwright

Other People\'s MoneyJustin Cartwright, author of Other People’s Money, has commented on the withdrawal of Detective Hilton Botha from the investigation of the murder case against Oscar Pistorius, after it was revealed that the officer had a pending attempted murder charge against him.

Cartwright is not surprised that Botha had fired on a minibus taxi while intoxicated and that he admits to not following the proper procedure while searching Pistorius’ house, the scene where the athlete’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, was shot dead. “The police in South Africa are notoriously incompetent, corrupt and poorly trained,” Cartwright says.

He points out that crime is widespread in South African society, reaching right up to the highest levels of government where corruption regularly occurs. Like Nadine Gordimer, whom Cartwright interviewed last year, he has become disillusioned with the ANC government. Still, he says, “As it happens, I love being in South Africa: it’s never dull”.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius is extraordinary in itself; there is something very dark at the heart of this case. But it is also extraordinary for what it is revealing, in unintended ways, about the heart of South Africa today.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the detective who was supposed to be leading the inquiry is to appear in court in May for attempted murder. It is alleged that two years ago, Detective Hilton Botha, while drunk, fired from a police vehicle at a minibus taxi full of black passengers. This kind of thing was a popular recreation for drunk, white policemen during the apartheid years. The case against Detective Botha was dropped, but has now been reopened, presumably because of the potential PR disaster.

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Image courtesy The Guardian


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