Thokozile Masipa

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The Honourable
Thokozile Masipa
Judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa
Assumed office
1 December 1998
Nominated by Judicial Service Commission
Appointed by President Nelson Mandela
Personal details
Born (1947-10-16) 16 October 1947 (age 70)
Orlando East, Soweto, South Africa[1]
Spouse(s) Makhutla Wilson Masipa[1]
Children 2[2][3]
Alma mater University of South Africa
Occupation Judge
Profession Jurist

Thokozile Matilda Masipa (born 16 October 1947) is a judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa. She was the presiding judge in the 2014 trial of Oscar Pistorius for the killing of Reeva Steenkamp. Her verdict of not guilty of murder was later overturned on appeal.

Early life and education[edit]

Masipa was born and grew up in Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, the eldest of 10 children. After matriculating from Immaculata High School in the Alexandra township in 1966, she obtained a BA degree specialising in Social Work in 1974 and a LLB in 1990 from the University of South Africa. She was admitted as an advocate in 1991.[1][3]

Career[edit]

In the past, people would stay away from the court and rather sort things out themselves. Now they see black people and women on the Bench and they say maybe, if you want justice, the high court is where you go.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, Courting Justice (2008)[4]

Prior to her law career, Masipa worked as a social worker and as a crime reporter, which led to her interest in law. She worked for The World, Post and The Sowetan newspapers and edited the Queen women's supplement of Pace magazine.[5][6][7][8]

In 1998, she was appointed as a judge in the Transvaal Provincial Division (as it was then known) of the High Court of South Africa,

[1][9][1][10][11] becoming the second black woman to be appointed as a judge in the High Court after Lucy Mailula, who was appointed to the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court (as it was then known) in 1995.[12][13][14][15] Masipa has also served in Gauteng's consumer court tribunal,[16] the Estate Agents Board,[17] and the Electoral Court of South Africa.[18][19]

In a 2003 interview with the Judicial Service Commission, Masipa supported greater transparency and interaction with the media to aid the public's understanding of the judicial process.[20] She is one of the seven female South African judges featured in Courting Justice, a 2008 documentary film directed by Jane Lipman.[4][21]

Notable judgements[edit]

Masipa contributed to case law on the constitutional duties of local government related to housing in her 2009 ruling on Blue Moonlight Properties v Occupiers of Saratoga Avenue.[7]

State v Oscar Pistorius[edit]

Masipa was the presiding judge in the trial of Oscar Pistorius for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and several gun-related charges which commenced in the High Court in Pretoria on 3 March 2014.[7][22] She appointed two assessors to assist her in the trial.[23] According to the spokesperson for the South African judiciary, she was not specially assigned to the case because of her gender.[24][25] Following her assignment to the high-profile case, her colleagues reportedly described her as respected, competent, eloquent, and reserved.[7][26] According to media monitoring company ROi Africa, the majority of social media comments during the delivery of the verdict were critical of Judge Masipa after it became evident that Pistorius would not be found guilty of murder, a decision which was later overturned by the Appeal Court and a murder verdict recorded. Judge Masipa, who was given police protection from the beginning of the trial, was subjected to threats and personal attacks by people who disagreed with the verdict.[27][28] In her new sentence for Pistorius based on a murder conviction, Masipa only increased his sentence by 1 year to 6 years. The 6 year sentence for murder was appealed by the National Prosecuting Authority and they convinced South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal to increase the sentence. The sentence was set at the minimum length for a murder conviction in South Africa - 15 years.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Second black woman appointed as a judge" (PDF). Consultus. General Council of the Bar of South Africa. 12 (1): 16. March 1999. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Hunter-Gault, Charlayne (5 May 2014). "The Woman Who Will Judge Oscar Pistorius". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Tay, Nastasya (10 August 2014). "Thokozile Masipa: the world awaits her verdict on Oscar Pistorius". The Observer. Archived from the original on 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Basson, Adriaan (27 June 2008). "Sisters on the bench". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Lekota, Ido (19 October 2009). "'The media is still owned by whites'". The Sowetan. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Pistorius trial to be heard by former crime reporter". eNCA. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Experienced, reserved judge for Pistorius trial". Mail & Guardian. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Human Sciences Research Council. Group: Democracy and Governance (2000). Women Marching Into the 21st Century: Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo. Pretoria: HSRC Press. p. 110. ISBN 9780796919663. 
  9. ^ "The South African Judiciary – Judiciary". Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "SA is richer with these black judges". City Press. 18 October 1998. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Report on Activities of the Judicial Service Commission for the year ended 30 June 1999". Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Mabuza, Ernest (21 January 2014). "Judge adapts to the limelight". Business Day. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Judge ML Mailula". University of Limpopo. Retrieved 27 February 2014. She was the first black female judge to join the High Court Bench in 1995. 
  14. ^ "New Judges – Lucy Mailula" (PDF). Consultus. General Council of the Bar of South Africa. 8 (2): 112. November 1995. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Ellis, Pat (April 2010). "A short history of the North and South Gauteng High Courts" (PDF). advocate. General Council of the Bar of South Africa. 23 (1): 49. Retrieved 28 February 2014. the first black judge, Ismael Mahomed (later CJ), and the first female judge, Lucy Mailula, were appointed in 1991 and 1995 respectively 
  16. ^ Soggot, Mungo (6 December 1996). "New court gives consumers more clout". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2014. Jones’s colleagues include businesswoman Angie Makwetla, advocate Matilda Masipa and attorney Ellen Frances. Its chairman is attorney Willie Seriti 
  17. ^ "Nyembe re-elected as EAB chairperson". Beeld. 18 December 1998. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Andrew, Miranda (3 September 2008). "Electoral Court braces for a busy time". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 28 February 2014. The Electoral Court consists of only five staff members, of whom three are women. They are Judge Thumba Pillay of the Durban High Court, Judge Thokozile Masipa of the Johannesburg High Court, and two attorneys, Susan Abro and Saloshna Moodley. Mthiyane is the fifth member of the team. 
  19. ^ "Judicial Service Commission – The Electoral Court" (PDF). Consultus. General Council of the Bar of South Africa. 11 (2): 115. November 1998. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Swart, Wernet (2 March 2014). "Former crime reporter in hot seat as global gaze turns to courtroom GD". Times LIVE. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Courting Justice – Judges". Morris and Ruth B. Cowan Foundation. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  22. ^ Bateman, Barry (17 January 2014). "Thokozile Masipa to preside over Pistorius case". Eyewitness News. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Venter, Zelda (13 February 2014). "Oscar trial judge appoints assessors". Pretoria News. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  24. ^ Versluis, Jeanne-Marié (17 January 2014). "Sy verhoor Oscar" [She tries Oscar]. Beeld (in Afrikaans). Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Dube, Dudu; Mafisa, Itumeleng (20 January 2014). "Judiciary defends woman judge for Oscar trial". The New Age. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  26. ^ de Wet, Phillip (7 February 2014). "Oscar Pistorius trial: Let the hysteria begin". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  27. ^ du Plessis, Charl; Patta, Debora; Huisman, Bienne (14 September 2014). "State vs Oscar Pistorius: It's not over". City Press. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Conway-Smith, Erin (16 September 2014). "Judge who found Oscar Pistorius not guilty of murder under police protection". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (Nov 24, 2017). "Oscar Pistorius murder sentence more than doubled after appeal". NBC News. Retrieved Nov 24, 2017.