The judge who will decide Oscar Pistorious' fate took center stage on Thursday after she found the Olympian not guilty of premeditated murder. As the world waits for her to deliver the final verdict on the charge of culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013, every ounce of Thokozile Matilda Masipa's history is being analyzed for clues as to how she'll rule.
South Africa does not have jury trials, so the decision is made solely by a judge and assessors. In this case, Masipa had two assessors and can sentence Pistorius for up to 15 years if he is found guilty of culpable homicide.
Judge Masipa is wrong in law, shooting at a toilet door knowing very well somebody is inside you accepts possibility of killing #OscarTrial— Jabulani wase Voti (@sjakavoti) September 11, 2014
I support Judge M RT @RAI777GP Hahahaha I'm luving the hatred towards judge Masipa now. .They say her glass of water is mixed with vodka— Azanian_©adre (@Fighter_Phuti) September 11, 2014
So 2 everyone who said "You're wrong about Judge Masipa" allow me 2 say I was right frm the start" Sadly,I expected this. #Nojusticef4reeva— Barbara Volkwyn (@barbara_volkwyn) September 11, 2014
It's a polarizing decision that's placed the judge with a "reputation for toughness" in the spotlight. According to ABC News, Masipa has been harsh on those convicted of violence against women, having previously sentenced a man who raped three women to 252 years in prison, as well as a police officer who killed his wife to a life sentence. "You deserve to go to jail for life because you are not a protector," she told the latter while delivering her sentence. "You are a killer."