- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Parent at Oprah school claim betrayal after abuse charges
- Date: 8th November 2007
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (NOVEMBER 2, 2007) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SUPERINTENDENT LUNGELO DLAMINI CHATTING WITH JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (English) SUPERINTENDENT LUNGELO DLAMINI, SAYING: "We have arrested a former employee at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. She was arrested yesterday after we have been investigating several cases of abuse. These charges against her include alleged assault, indecent assault, criminal injury, and also soliciting girls under the age to perform indecent acts. At least we have already interviewed about seven victims, and we would like to thank the team appointed by the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls who compiled a misconduct report. This report assisted to speed up the investigation until we arrested the suspect and now criminal proceedings are going to continue against this person."
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2007 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA7HWM74VZIXVRZJFDCG96QWNXT
- Story Text: Masechaba Hine said she had trusted the former dormitory employee at the Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy, who had struck her as caring at previous meetings.
Now, Hine describes her as "a wolf in sheep's clothing" and wants her to be handed a tough jail sentence if found guilty.
"I think she must take a long sentence. She's okay to rot in jail.
She's not okay to be with other children because she's still going to do that.
I was so shocked (after hearing about the allegations)," Hine told Reuters Television.
"As a parent, I felt bad, even though she didn't hurt my children.
All of them are our children," she said at her home in Soweto, a black township outside Johannesburg, whose landscape is brimming with shanty homes and scarred by the poverty the school was designed to help the girls escape.
Police said on Friday they had charged the unnamed woman for a range of crimes, including indecent acts. At least seven alleged victims have submitted statements about the woman, police said.
The suspect is being held by police and is expected to appear before a magistrate on Monday.
The $40 million academy has been hit by controversy since it opened in January with a launched attended by singers Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, actor Sydney Poitier and film-maker Spike Lee.
Some parents have complained about its curbs on visits, telephone calls and emails, while critics have spoken out against its lavishness in a country where many impoverished schools are without textbooks and classrooms.
But Hine, who attended a meeting at which Oprah was reported to have apologised to parents for letting them down, had only praise for the U.S.
celebrity talk show host.
"I felt bad even for Oprah, because Oprah is fair and honest to our children," she said.
Winfrey selected the first class of 152 poor, mostly black pupils to attend the posh school, which boasts laboratories, a yoga studio and beauty salon and is situated on 52 acres (21 hectares) at Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.
Tuition and lodging are free. The academy provides its 450 students with textbooks, uniforms and meals.
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