Posted Aug 08, 2014 11:15 am CDT
The judge who is considering the fate of double-amputee track star Oscar Pistorius had several careers after her childhood in a two-room home in a poor, black township in South Africa.
Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa worked as a social worker and a journalist before she began to study law, the New York Times reports. She earned her law degree in 1990, four years before the end of apartheid and became a lawyer in her 40s. in 1998, she was the second black woman appointed to the nation’s High Court, which hears serious cases at the trial level.
The Times describes Masipa, 66, as “an intensely private person” who often sat quietly during Pistorius’ trial with her hands folded. Friends say she has an “even keel” and is empathetic and fair. She has been known for high sentences in cases involving violence against women.
When working at The Post, Masipa edited a weekly women’s section. At first the section included stories about “how to keep your man, those kind of things,” one colleague said, but that changed as the nation changed. Masipa advocated running stories on subjects such as school quality and conditions of domestic workers. As authorities cracked down on publishers, Masipa and four other female reporters organized a demonstration, resulting in their arrests.
Lawyers began closing arguments in the Pistorius trial on Thursday, report the New York Times and the Washington Post. Prosecutors claim Pistorius intentionally killed his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013 while defense lawyers say Pistorius believed he was shooting an intruder when he fired through a closed bathroom door.
Masipa announced Friday that she would give a verdict in the case Sept. 11, the Associated Press reported.
Updated Aug. 8 to note Masipa’s scheduled verdict announcement.