Mom says daughter was ill-treated

Canaan Mdletshe

Philanthropic TV personality Oprah Winfrey may have tried to light up the lives of some lucky South African girls with a R300 million state of the art school.

But for 12-year-old Aviwe Ngubo, her brief stay at the institution was a nightmare, says her mother, Bongiwe Ngubo.

"I have pulled my child out of the school and I regret the day I sent her there," she said. "She was treated like dirt in that school and she suffered emotional abuse."

Little Aviwe on Friday left the school that has state of the art equipment, best teachers and spends at least R50 000 on each child - all paid for by Winfrey.

Ngubo said Aviwe's misery began when she attempted to make friends withother pupils.

"The dormitory sister (her name is known to Sowetan) did not like it when my daughter started befriending girls from outside Springs. She told her that she did not like her making friends with pupils from outside our area," said Ngubo.

She claims the sister "started spreading lies about my daughter and actually encouraged other children not to speak to her".

"I spoke to the sister, but she never changed, instead it became worse."

She says things got so bad that a nurse at the school was told not to treat Aviwe when she fell ill because she was "pretending".

"I spoke to the principal and she promised to look into the problem, but never did. When I confronted her about it, it became clear to me she was supporting her staff and I had no choice but to pull her out of the school. My daughter's happiness is everything to me," said Ngubo.

Ngubo says she was over the moon when Aviwe entered the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls at Henley- On-Klip, south of Johannesburg, early this year. Aviwe was one of the six girls from Springs selected to study there.

Ngubo says the rules at the school are too strict. Pupils are given one hour a week to speak to their parents. Parents can only visit their children once a month at the school.

Sowetan has learned that four other girls have left the school since the beginning of the year. Aviwe is now back at her former school, Strubansvalley Primary.

Lisa Halliday, spokesman for the school, had at the time of going to press not responded to Sowetan's questions sent to her on Tuesday.