Judge Masipa grilled over her Oscar Pistorius ruling

2015-04-14 09:47

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The handling of the Oscar Pistorius trial took centre stage during the Judicial Service Commission interviews last night.

In the spotlight was North Gauteng High Court Judge Thokozile Masipa who was being interviewed for the position of judge president of the soon-to-be launched Limpopo Division of the High Court.

The high court, which is yet to be operational, seeks to bring services to Limpopo while easing the case load for the North Gauteng High Court.

Masipa is among seven senior judges being interviewed for the job of establishing and leading the court.

The hearing – which only ended after midnight – got off to a bad start for Masipa, a former journalist, who faced more questions about the Pistorius case than about her ability to hold the position.

Her ruling, which is now being appealed by the prosecution, was widely criticised for being too lenient in a country where violence against women and children is rife.

Judge Thokozile Masipa

Last night, the 68-year-old judge explained that people interested in the case had their own predetermined judgments. She blamed the public criticism of her on ignorance and a lack of understanding of court processes.

However commissioner Mathole Motshekga, who is on the commission in his capacity as the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice, was not convinced and asked whether the criticism of Masipa would affect the new court.

“Given the unfair criticism against you, due to the ignorance of the law and legal processes, and the stigma from following such an ignorance, don’t you think that will also unfairly tarnish the image of the new court?” Motshekga asked.

Masipa responded saying the criticism was not about her but about her decision.

“It was because people had expected a certain outcome and that did not happen. I don’t think I am stigmatised,” she said.

Masipa said she had worked on other cases since the Pistorius matter and she remained respected within the legal fraternity.

Commissioner Thandi Modise, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, said women would continue to be the underdogs because laws were failing to protect them.

Masipa’s grilling continued when commissioner Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, asked why she was in the race for the job while she had only two years left before retirement.

“You are left with two years, and then after that we must go and get another judge. Don’t you think it is better for this commission to go for someone who can stay for a longer period?” he asked.

“Two years is a very long time. When I leave there would be no instabilities,” Masipa replied.

Masipa was not the only judge to be grilled by the commissioners yesterday.

Judge Francis Legodi, who was applying for the same position as Masipa, was also subjected to a similar exercise.

Legodi’s resignation from the Arms Procurement Commission citing “personal issues” had commissioners wanting to know the details.

Commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, an advocate and spokesperson for the JSC, told Legodi that it would be in the interests of the commission to know why he had a meeting with President Jacob Zuma and later resigned.

Legodi refused to divulge the reasons despite several attempts to extract them from him.

Meanwhile, other issues which are featuring in the discussions currently under way at the hearings in Cape Town include transformation, capacitating the courts and attracting more female judges.

Out of 20 candidates being interviewed for positions in higher courts, only three were women.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.