Judge Thokozile Masipa reads her verdict in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in Pretoria on September 11, 2014.
Judge Thokozile Masipa reads her verdict in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in Pretoria on September 11, 2014.

Legal groups slam attacks on Masipa

By Time of article published Sep 16, 2014

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Johannesburg - Several legal organisations on Monday said they were concerned by the threats and personal attacks directed at Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over the trial of Oscar Pistorius.

The Legal Resources Centre, Section27, and the Centre for Child Law said the wave of criticism directed at Masipa personally in relation to her judgment had resulted in her requiring police protection.

“Some of the remarks may even border on hate speech, defamation and contempt of court. These comments allege that Judge Masipa is corrupt, and/or that her gender and/or race rendered her incompetent in appropriately applying the law to the evidence presented,” the group said in a statement.

Masipa acquitted Pistorius of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who he shot dead through a locked toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year after mistaking her for an intruder.

Pistorius was instead found guilty of culpable homicide.

The legal organisations said while it was understandable that many people may disagree with the judgment, they condemned the unacceptable and inappropriate attacks on Masipa.

“The attacks serve no purpose but to undermine her judicial capacity,” the groups said.

“Judge Masipa's gender and/or race should be an irrelevant consideration in opinions on her judgment of the Oscar Pistorius trial or any other cases she adjudicates. Her decision last week required a considered application of the law in relation to the evidence presented by both parties.

“Whether male or female, black or white, the process would have been the same. It was her decision to make and she made it.”

The three groups said threats against Masipa because of her race and/or gender should not be tolerated in the current constitutional framework, where equality and non-discrimination are of paramount importance. - Sapa

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