More cases, including that of sexual offences with children, could be added to the charge sheet of the 49-year-old manager at Al-Noor Orphanage. Picture: Jack Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - More cases, including that of sexual offences with children, could be added to the charge sheet of the 49-year-old manager at Al-Noor Orphanage who is facing charges of fraud and corruption

The accused, Amiena Opara, on Tuesday briefly appeared before magistrate Reaz Khan in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. She appeared to be in some discomfort and walked with a limp. Opara, who is from Cameroon and married to a Nigerian, and is residing in Cape Town, was not asked to plead to charges of defeating the ends of justice, fraud and corruption.

According to Hawks spokesperson Philani Nkwalase, the suspect was apprehended on Friday and it is alleged she redirected donor funds destined for daily operations of the centre into her personal bank account.

Prosecutor Adiel Jansen said: “I’d just seen the docket and after perusing the content I need to inform the court that more charges would be added. Five charges for the contravention of Immigration Act will be added.

“The accused is from Cameroon and got married to a Nigerian, and it appears that this was a marriage of convenience, and her status in South Africa is also under scrutiny. There are also sexual offences charges where the husband and accused are implicated. The husband is back in Nigeria and we’re looking for him.”

The State requested a seven-day postponement to obtain the necessary information to finalise a provisional charge sheet for bail information.

Opara’s defence attorney Anthony Berinato objected to a postponement, arguing that he has a fully prepared affidavit in respect of his client that contains all the information needed for bail purposes. After the proceedings, a woman who refused to give her name harassed the investigating officer, wanting to know why he arrested Opara, and accusing him of asking the accused to give him R500000. 

Responding to the sexual allegations, Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said: “There’s significant evidence of physical and sexual abuse of children there which needs to be tested in a court. Criminal cases have been laid with the SAPS.

“The DSD removed 17 children from Al-Noor Child and Youth Care Centre and placed them in other child and youth care centres where they’re receiving social support, including assessment and counselling.”

The matter is remanded for seven days till June 25 for bail purposes.

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