Sowetan story exposed abuse

A STORY published in Sowetan two years ago triggered a pupil at the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls in Henley-on-Klip, Vaal, to reveal alleged abuse by dormitory parent Tiny Virginia Makopo.

A STORY published in Sowetan two years ago triggered a pupil at the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls in Henley-on-Klip, Vaal, to reveal alleged abuse by dormitory parent Tiny Virginia Makopo.

The story was about a pupil who had left the school.

Ifunanya Maduka, the dean of pupils at the academy, testified in the Sebokeng magistrate's court yesterday that on October 1, 2007, she had a group discussion with seven pupils about issues affecting them.

Maduka said: "We were discussing the relevance of an article in the newspaper about a pupil who had left the school. One of the pupils, Lerato (not her real name) told me about her experiences in the dormitory."

She said Lerato, who had earlier testified against her former dormitory parent Makopo, told her about favouritism and her ill-treatment in the dormitory.

"Lerato said she felt that Mapule (not her real name) was in a love relationship with Makopo. She described that one afternoon she went to Makopo's room and found the door open. She proceeded to the bedroom and found Makopo and Mapule cuddling and touching each other, and that when they saw her they jumped from the bed and separated."

Maduka said according to the pupil, the two "felt guilty" when they saw her.

She said another pupil, Nthabiseng (also not her real name), was brought to her office by a friend.

Nthabiseng recounted to her that she was at times not allowed to sleep in her room which she shared with Mapule, and "would be kicked out by Makopo".

"She said Makopo would come to their room at about 10pm or later and would sleep there.

"Sometimes the pupil pretended to be asleep when Makopo arrived, and she then believed the two were in a relationship," said Maduka.

She said the pupil further informed her that on a separate occasion Makopo knocked at their bedroom window, but Mapule ducked under a table.

Makopo is accused of sexually assaulting six pupils at the academy.

The trial continues today.

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