JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A woman judge has been appointed to hear the case of South African Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend, which opens in early March, a judiciary official said Friday.
High Court judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa will preside at the trial, a spokeswoman for the judiciary, Lulama Luti, told AFP.
Pistorius is set to go on trial on March 3 for the Valentine’s Day murder of his lover Reeva Steenkamp.
He will also answer charges for discharging a firearm on two separate occasions before Steenkamp’s death.
Masipa, 66, was appointed a judge in 1988 in what was then the Transvaal Provincial division, becoming only the second black woman to be admitted to the bench during the apartheid era.
She was a social worker and journalist before studying law at the University of South Africa.
Masipa was assigned Pistorius’s trial in a routine allocation of court cases and was “not a special selection,” said Luti.
Pistorius, a double amputee known as the “Blade Runner” for the fibreglass prosthetic legs he uses in competition, shocked the world when he admitted shooting Steenkamp, a blonde cover girl and law graduate.
He has denied murder, saying he shot her through a locked bathroom door in his upmarket Pretoria home because he thought she was an intruder.