Oscar Pistorius trial: How the

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp in November, 2012 at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg

Oscar Pistorius trial: How the legal teams measure up

In the run up to the start of Oscar Pistorius’s trial on Monday, we look at the judge, prosecution and defence who will be starring in the courtroom.

Oscar Pistorius trial: How the

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp in November, 2012 at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg

With one of the most high-profile South African trials in history starting on Monday, we take a look at the main players who will decide Oscar Pistorius’s fate in front of the TV cameras.

Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa
Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa

JUDGE: Thokozile Matilda Masipa

Who? A former crime reporter for The Sowetan newspaper, Masipa was only the second black woman to be appointed to the High Court in 1988. She also featured in the 2008 documentary Courting Justice about the struggles of working as a female judge in South Africa.

Best known for: Her no-nonsense approach to crimes against women and her view that no one is above the law — not even the most famous celebrities.

In 2001, she sentenced two rapists to life imprisonment, and said: “Defenceless women feel unsafe, even in the sanctity of their own home, and look to these courts to protect their interests. The courts can protect these interests by meting out harsh sentences.”

She made headlines again in 2009 after sentencing a policeman to life imprisonment for shooting his ex-wife. To him, she said: “No one is above the law. You deserve to go to jail for life because you are not a protector. You are a killer.”

Then, in 2013, she sentenced Shepherd Moyo, a notorious robber and rapist, to 252 years in prison.

Masipa has appointed two assessors to assist her but has not revealed their names.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel


Who? A state prosecutor with more than 30 years’ experience, Nel is already a big name in South African law.

Best known for? In 2008, he battled an abrupt fraud arrest at his house in front of his family to come out on top two years later by securing a corruption conviction against Jackie Selebi, former police chief and Interpol president.

His other wins include the 1995 prosecution of two youths for shooting a doctor outside Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, and sentencing Hazel Kidson to 25 years in prison for stabbing her husband outside their Roodeport home in 1996.

However, his record is not flawless. He was most notably on a team of prosecutors who failed to convict Glenn Agliotti for the murder of Brett Kebble, a well-known mining businessman, in 2006.

Nel convinced the court to prosecute Pistorius for premeditated murder instead of solely culpable homicide.

Barry Roux and Kenny Oldwage
Barry Roux and Kenny Oldwage

DEFENCE: Barry Roux and Kenny Oldwage

Who? Roux is a Senior Counsel who has been practising for 32 years and is widely speculated to earn around R50,000 per day.

He is working with the attorney Kenny Oldwage.

Best known for? Roux has already asserted his dominance in the Pistorius case after ruthlessly questioning the detective Hilton Botha in the bail hearing, forcing him to admit that police had missed crucial forensic evidence at the scene. Botha was later removed from the case and soon afterwards resigned from the police force.

Previously, Roux famously acted for Dave King, a Glasgow-born businessman and Rangers football club director, who was accused of defrauding the South African Revenue Service of R2.5 billion. After an extensive 13 year court battle, King eventually escaped jail and was ordered to repay a much smaller sum than what was owed.

Roux also represented an ex-apartheid general, Lothar Neethling, over defamatory newspaper claims in the 1990s.

Oldwage’s most significant success was helping to acquit the man who was driving the car in the accident that killed Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter in 2010.

The pair are backed by an experienced team, including Stuart Higgins, former editor of The Sun newspaper, in charge of PR, and top forensic pathologist Reggie Perumal.