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Police took photos of Oscar Pistorius on their mobile phones after arrest

Forty-nine mobile phones were confiscated from officers at the Pretoria station where Pistorius was initially held.

Image: (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

EVEN POLICE OFFICERS clamoured to get photos of Oscar Pistorius on their cellphones after the famed Olympic athlete was arrested for the shooting dead of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, South Africa’s minister of police said in a written response to a question in parliament.

Forty-nine mobile phones were confiscated from officers at Boschkop police station in Pretoria after they were used to take photographs of Pistorius when he was being transferred between court and the station soon after his arrest.

“This action was necessary after it came to light that photos were taken of a high profile individual who had been arrested,” wrote police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

The minister said four “official” phones and 45 private phones were taken from the officers on 20 February, six days after Pistorius’ arrest. They could be used as evidence in possible disciplinary proceedings against the police officers, Mthethwa said. Mthethwa did not reveal how many officers had taken photos of Pistorius or how many — if any — are facing disciplinary action.

Pistorius was initially held at Boschkop, a station close to his home in suburban Pretoria, after being arrested on Valentine’s Day following the killing of Ms Steenkamp at his house in the pre-dawn hours. The Olympian was later moved to another police station for his bail hearing at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.

South Africa’s ministry of police declined to give further details on the cellphone photos and any possible disciplinary action against police officers, but the sensational Pistorius case has already cast doubts on the professionalism of South Africa’s force. The former lead investigating officer, Hilton Botha, gave shaky evidence in court during Pistorius’ bail hearing and it later emerged that Botha himself was facing seven charges of attempted murder. Botha was removed from the case and later resigned from the South African police.

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