Judge Masipa requires utmost respect

We, the undersigned, wish to express our concern at what we believe are unwarranted personal attacks against Judge Thokozile Masipa.

On 11 and 12 of September 2014, Judge Masipa handed down the much-awaited verdict in the criminal trial of Oscar Pistorius. Since Judge Masipa’s decision to find Mr Pistorius guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, we have witnessed an avalanche of criticism of both the decision and the judge who handed it down.

We believe that in a democratic society, decisions emanating from our courts are not above reproach. While people are free to express their opinions on the judgments handed down by the courts, unwarranted attacks on the judge who decides on matters are inappropriate.

We have a robust and independent judiciary that seeks to uphold the law and protect all citizens regardless of their status. The judges who have a daunting task of upholding the law deserve respect and, if and when their decisions are a cause for concern, an appeal is the appropriate recourse for unhappy parties.

The unfounded personal attacks and threats towards Judge Masipa are not only abhorrent but do little to advance the respect for and the integrity of the judiciary. They show scant regard for the rule of law and the rights protected in our Constitution and should not be tolerated in a democratic society. We call for a debate on judgements which is thoughtful, and responds to the issues, and not the individuals.

Signed by:

  1. The Democratic Governance and Rights Unit-UCT
  2. The Centre for Law and Society-UCT
  3. Sonke Gender Justice
  4. Women’s Legal Centre
  5. Rape Crisis
  6. Centre for Applied Legal Studies-WITS
  7. Triangle Project
  8. Governance Crime & Justice Division-ISS
  9. The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution
  10. Lisa Vetten
  11. Allison Tilley

For further information, please contact

  • Tabeth Masengu, Researcher, Democratic Governance and Rights Unit
  • Allison Tilley, Coordinator Judges Matter Campaign
  • Katy Hindle, Policy Development and Advocacy Fellow, Sonke Gender Justice: katy@genderjustice.org.za