- Title: USA/SOUTH AFRICA: Oprah Winfrey 's South Africa school abuse suspect gets bail
- Date: 6th November 2007
- Summary: (BN10) VEREENIGING, SOUTH AFRICA (NOVEMBER 05, 2007) (REUTERS ACCESS-ALL) EXTERIOR OF THE SEBOKENG COURT VARIOUS OF MEDIA WAITING SOUTH AFRICAN FLAG MAGISTRATE OFFICE IN SEBOKENG SUSPECT COVERED IN A JACKET LEAVING COURT AFTER PAYING BAIL
- Embargoed: 21st November 2007 12:00
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Education
- Reuters ID: LVAAWH9EGZDWTINZSUSZAFBRAN1H
- Story Text: A former member of staff at Oprah Winfrey's school for girls in South Africa is released on bail, after being charged with abusing students.
U.S. television magnate Oprah Winfrey said on Monday (November 5) she was "cleaning house" at her all-girl academy in South Africa after a dormitory matron was charged with abusing students at the facility.
Winfrey , describing the charges -- including soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts -- as one of the most devastating experiences in her life, the billionaire philanthropist said she had not renewed the head mistress's contract.
"This has been one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating experience of my life. Like all such experiences, there is always much to be gained and I think there's a lot to be learned," she said.
"I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Oprah Winfrey leadership Academy for girls becomes the safe and nurturing and enriched setting that I had envisioned. A place capable of fostering the full measure of these girls productivity, of their creativity and of their humanity" she added.
Former dormitory matron Virginia Mokgobo, 27, was arrested on Thursday on charges including assault, indecent assault and soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts.
She was freed on 3,000 rand (458 U.S. dollars) bail on Monday after a brief court appearance and left the Sebokeng magistrate court, south of Johannesburg with a blanket over her head. The court postponed the case to Dec. 13 to allow for more investigations.
Winfrey told reporters "I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls becomes the safe and nurturing and enriched setting that I had envisioned. "
Winfrey praised students who came forward to report the alleged abuse as exhibiting the kind of leadership qualities she hoped to foster in the school.
Oprah's $40 million academy has been dogged by controversy since it opened in January with a launch attended by singers Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, actor Sydney Poitier and filmmaker Spike Lee.
In March, some parents complained the school was too strict and its restrictions on visits, phone calls and email contact were comparable to rules in prisons.
Then in May, some parents complained their children were not allowed junk food and, when they visited the school, they had to go through a security gate.
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