Judge Thokozile Masipa: Who is the woman delivering Oscar Pistorius verdict?

Seven facts about the only person whose opinion on Pistorius truly counts

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The Independent Online

For the most part, she remained a steely but passive observer of the dramatic Oscar Pistorius case as it played out in court in front of her.

But Judge Thokozile Masipa is the only person whose thoughts on whether the athlete murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in cold blood, or was the unfortunate catalyst of a tragic accident, matters as she delivers the verdict on 11 September.

Oscar Pistorius trial live

If convicted of premeditated murder, he faces 25 years to life imprisonment. A lesser murder charge would see him behind bars for 10 years. Or she could acquit him altogether, which would see him walk free.

Here are seven facts about her that might just count against him:

1) She knows the media and is well aware of the publicity battle between the Steenkamp family and that of camp Pistorius, desperate to show the athlete's remorse. How? Because she used to be a crime reporter herself before she turned to law and was made a judge in 1998.

2) She has a track record of taking tough action on domestic violence.

3) One of the first black female judges since the country rid itself of white rule in 1994, she is a beacon of achievement in a nation still plagued by poverty and unemployment…

4) … And is also a former social worker known for taking a stand on behalf of the underdog. This could mean she is unlikely to be influenced or intimidated by Pistorius’ fame and previous status as a national hero.


5) She is known for handing out tough sentences. Last year, she sentenced  a serial rapist to 252 years in prison.

6) A former prison officer was sentenced to life in jail by Masipa after he shot his wife dead as the couple argued over separation terms. "You deserve to go to jail for life because you are not a protector. You are a killer," she told the officer as she delivered his damning verdict.

7) In her role as section editor of the Post newspaper in 1976, she often wrote about anti-apartheid protests and the victims of police brutality, especially women.