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Judiciary defends woman judge for Oscar trial

The SA judiciary is not impressed with the emphasis on the gender of the judge assigned to hear the murder trial of Olympic star Oscar Pistorius scheduled for March in the North Gauteng High Court.

Since the news broke that judge Thoko Masipa would preside over the trial, headlines such as “Female Judge for Oscar” and “Black Woman Judge” had been splashed on top of stories.

Spokesperson for the judiciary Lulama Luti said the Pistorius case was among several that Masipa would preside over this year.

“I can confirm that judge Masipa will be hearing the case, she was allocated it in December last year. She is a jurist. A judge is a judge, it doesn’t matter what gender they are,” Luti said.

Masipa was appointed to the bench in 1998 and presided over many high profile cases. Last September she sentenced serial rapist Shepherd Moyo to 252 years in prison.

She convicted and sentenced police inspector Freddy Mashamba for shooting dead his wife in 2009, in a case similar to that of Pistorius. When she sentenced Mashamba, Judge Masipa said: “You deserve to go to jail for life, because you are not a protector, you are a killer.”

Meanwhile, Pistorius, has won awards at the Just Curious awards for the “Tjo” moment of the year for allegedly killing his model girl friend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

Pistorius also won an award for newsmaker of the year. Pistorius was absent from the event.

He is set to go on trial on March 3 for the Valentine’s Day killing of his lover, Reeva Steenkamp.

He has denied murdering Steenkamp but said he had shot her through a locked bathroom door in his upmarket Pretoria home thinking she was an intruder.

Pistorius’ spokesperson Anneliese Burgess did not comment on his absence from the awards.

Weekend reports have suggested that Pistorius was in negotiations with the Steenkamp family paying them, R2m compensation for her death.