Oprah Winfrey’s Elite South African Boarding School Rocked by Sex Scandal for Second Time

Photo: Getty Images, Oprah’s Girls’ School in South Africa

Oprah Winfrey’s elite South African boarding school for girls has been rocked by another sex scandal, less than two year after the first one hit. According to the “Afrikaans on Sunday” newspaper, seven students were suspended last week for sexually harassing their schoolmates. That’s how these girls thank Oprah for taking them out of a depressing life that was seemingly devoid of a future as a professional.

One 15-year-old was accused of preying on another pupil and forcing other girls to lie to investigators about it, the paper reported.

“You have been found guilty of physical contact of a sexual nature with another pupil on campus, harassment, bullying other girls on campus and of being dishonest by not telling investigators the whole truth,” a letter to her parents read. Other girls were caught fondling each other or trying to get other girls to join them in lesbian liaisons, the paper reported.

Oprah’s spokesperson, Lisa Halliday, confirmed the girls had been suspended from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy School for Girls – but gave few details. “It is because they contravened the school’s code of conduct,” she said. “We regard the incident as confidential.” Source: NY Daily News

I remember when the school was opened and the pride beaming from Oprah’s eyes at her accomplishment. She said that it was the proudest moment of her life when she opened the $46 million school near Johannesburg in January 2007 to help high achieving but poor South African girls. Let me echo the words of Barack Obama from the campaign trail, in as far as it pertains to these suspended girls — “you can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.” Oprah tried to help these girls, but they were rotten to the core from the start. Sorry, really rotten to the core. There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, but it’s what also accompanied this — bullying and trying to force the girls to lie to investigators — that’s the real slap to Oprah.

The school, which aims to house 450 girls in grades seven through 12 by 2011, offered free tuition, books and uniforms, as well as room and board. In return, the girls were required to follow the rules.

Ten months later, Winfrey sobbed uncontrollably after 15 girls reported they had been sexually abused by Virginia Tiny Makgobo, a matron who was supposed to be watching over them.

The talk show queen said the sex abuse charges hit her especially hard because she was raped and molested by a cousin, uncle and family friend when she was 9. “I am a mama bear when it comes to protecting my children,” she said at the time. “These girls are like my children. That’s not just rhetoric for me. I take their futures and the possibility for what their futures hold very seriously.”

Dorm matron Makgobo was charged with indecent assault, common assault, soliciting a minor to perform an indecent act and verbal abuse of girls at the school. She denies the charges and is due back in court on June 1. Source: NY Daily News

I know that Oprah will get a lot of flack for what has happened again. But she can only control what these young girls do to a point and no further. I recall when I first started attending Mt. Alvernia High School in Jamaica, the boarding school had been disbanded because some of the girls were trekking across the street to Cornwall Boys’ School’s boarding school for sexual liaisons. Well, some of the girls at Oprah’s school are engaging in the same pattern of behavior. For what it is worth, Ms. Winfrey has been honorable in her goals for the school and deliberate in her convictions because of her life story. You can’t blame her for trying, but these girls should be ashamed of themselves. She ought to send them back to the slums from whence they came.