State calls last witness in Oprah school case

By Kanina Foss

The Sebokeng Magistrate's Court has heard how Tiny Virginia Makopo, accused of abusing pupils at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, allegedly assaulted a fellow matron.

The State yesterday called its final witness, the school's former security manager, Indhira Naik, who testified how she had called Makopo to a meeting in September 2007 after hearing about an altercation between her and a fellow dormitory matron. Makopo allegedly assaulted the matron by pushing her around and pulling her by her clothes.

At the meeting, Makopo said the matter had been resolved with the school's head, Dr Nomvuyo Mzamane, who was at the time preparing to go overseas.

According to Naik, Makopo then refused to answer any further questions and was subsequently suspended.

Last year, Makopo pleaded not guilty to 14 counts related to abuse, assault, indecent assault and soliciting underage girls to perform indecent acts.

The State alleges Makopo indecently assaulted the girls, aged 13 and 14, by kissing them with an open mouth, touching their breasts, forcing them to touch her breasts, and creeping into their beds and telling them to be lesbians. She is accused of assaulting a 13-year-old girl by slapping her, pulling her hair, forcing her to sit on a bare floor for 15 minutes and rubbing custard into her hair. One of the girls was allegedly throttled and told she was so stupid she did not deserve to be at the school.

Makopo's trial began last year, but was postponed after some of the girls started testifying. The last of the six alleged victims testified in camera in February.

The defence will begin its case on Monday.

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