An employee has been arrested in the wake of the Oprah Winfrey school abuse scandal. Tiny Makopo, a 27-year-old former dorm matron at Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls, was arrested on charges of abuse, including indecent acts.
“A former dormitory employee has been arrested yesterday by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit on several charges of abuse,” Lungelo Dlamini, spokesperson for the South African police’s Child Protection Unit, said in a statement released to the press.
Makopo, 27, turned herself in early Friday to the Vereeniging South Africa police station, just 15 miles outside of Winfrey’s school.
Dlamini revealed the ex-employee will be in court on Monday to face the multiple charges that include alleged assault, indecent assault, criminal injury and soliciting underage girls to perform indecent acts.
Makopo was fingerprinted and photographed before being held in a cell. At this time, she has no attorney.
Following the arrest, Winfrey released the following statement:
“I’d like to thank the South African Police Services for bringing this investigation at my Academy to a timely resolution. I am grateful for their compassion and sensitivity to the girls during this difficult time. It means the world to me. It is my deepest hope that the accused is brought to justice and that this serves as a reminder that any time a child has the courage to step forward, it is our duty as adults to listen and take immediate action.”
When the scandal broke, Makopo was immediately put on leave without pay. Authorities have thanked Winfrey for conducting her own private investigation into the matter, which helped expedite the process.
Gavin Prins, the senior entertainment reporter for the South African newspaper, Rapport told Access Hollywood that Winfrey is outraged at the people she hired to keep the girls safe.
“Just as upset as she is with the dorm parents, she’s also upset with the school principal, Dr. Mbulelo Mzimane,” Prins noted.
And that’s because Winfrey reportedly wasn’t even informed of the alleged abuse until months after the victim complained.
“The girls complained for quite a few months and nothing was done,” Prins added. “And just when one little girl decided that she had enough, she left the school and refused to go back. That’s when Dr. Mzimane called Oprah and said, ‘Listen here, we’ve got trouble at the school.’”
Winfrey has since cleaned house at the school in an effort to gain back the trust of the students and the parents. Not just Makopo, but all of the school’s dorm matrons, were relieved of their duties, with the academy’s teachers stepping in to help.
The academy is now heavily guarded, with barbed wire lining the walls. Hoping to avoid future scandal, Winfrey has also bought all 152 students their own cell phones, programmed with her personal phone number and she has told them that they can call her anytime — day or night.