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Woman judge named for Pistorius murder trial

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.