'SHE fondled the GIRLs'

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

The former matron of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, Virginia Tiny Makopo, has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges that include indecent assault.

"She asked a 13-year-old to kiss her like she kisses her boyfriend. She climbed into bed with her and kissed her on the neck. She then touched her all over," prosecutor Etienne Venter read from the charge sheet yesterday.

Makopo, 28, is facing four charges of indecent assault, five of common assault, two of soliciting a minor to perform an indecent act, one of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and two of crimen injuria.

The crimes were allegedly committed against six girls aged 13 and 14 and a 23-year-old woman between March and September last year.

If found guilty of soliciting a minor to commit an indecent act, Makopo could face 20 years in jail.

The Sebokeng regional court's windows were covered with brown paper, and the corridor leading to the court was barricaded with cartons to prevent anyone seeing inside while the girls gave evidence.

Police also stood guard in the court precinct.

Prosecutor Venter said the six girls' testimony would be heard in camera as they were scared to testify publicly and were minors.

"They are not scared of testifying, but they said they were scared of people," said Venter.

Outlining the charges that Makopo faces, Venter said: "She is accused of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl, kissing her with her mouth open, touching her breasts and making her touch Makopo's breasts."

The same girl was "recurrently assaulted, kicked and thrown on the bed and called a bitch, prostitute, dirty and told she was acting like a lesbian".

Makopo also allegedly asked a 14-year-old to be a lesbian and climbed into her bed at night and hugged her.

Makopo allegedly asked a 13-year-old to "kiss her the same way she kisses her boyfriend". She also grabbed the girl by the arm and kissed her neck while touching her all over her body.

A 14-year-old girl was thrown onto a couch, forced to eat custard and Makopo rolled the custard in her hair.

Makopo allegedly also went into the girl's room at night. She climbed into her bed, kissed her neck and rolled her breasts against the girl's body.

Venter requested the magistrate to allow the girls to testify through closed circuit television and in the company of an intermediary, Rebecca Hlobelo.

Hlobelo, who has four years' experience as an intermediary, will sit with the girls during their testimonies but is not allowed to talk to them.

Winfrey's lawyer, Elizabeth Yore, was allowed to attend the proceedings, but an application by Makopo's lawyer to allow her family to sit in was rejected.

The case continues.