JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - U.S. television magnate Oprah Winfrey said on Monday that she was “cleaning house” at her all-girl academy in South Africa after charges of abuse at the posh facility.
A former dormitory matron charged with abusing students at Oprah Winfrey’s school for girls was freed on bail on Monday after a brief court appearance.
The court said the case was postponed to December 13 to allow for further investigations.
Here are some details about the residential academy which is situated on 52 acres at Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.
— The $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls opened on January 2, with a launch attended by former South African President Nelson Mandela, U.S. singers Mariah Carey, Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige, comedian Chris Rock, actor Sydney Poitier and filmmaker Spike Lee.
— The goal was to create a safe place for girls and young women to learn about themselves and their heritage, and become future leaders.
— Winfrey selected the first class of 152 poor, mostly black pupils, based on academic and leadership potential.
— The school boasts state-of-the-art facilities including laboratories, a yoga studio and beauty salon. Tuition and board is free. The academy provides its 450 students with textbooks, uniforms and meals.
— In March, parents said they wanted greater access to their children, and compared the school’s restrictions on visits, phone calls and e-mail contact to prison rules. Some mothers complained the two-hour visit permitted one Sunday a month was not long enough to reconnect with their daughters.
— 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.
— On November 1, South African police arrested former dormitory employee, Virginia Mokgobo, on charges including assault, indecent assault and soliciting under-age girls to perform indecent acts.
— At least seven alleged victims have submitted statements about the woman.