By Nicholas Robinson
Tragedy has once again struck at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa. On Feb. 16, the body of a newborn baby was found in the bag of a 17-year-old student.
As reported by abcnews.go.com, the unidentified girl gave birth at the school and placed the baby in a bag before traveling, with the baby in tow, to a hospital where she was treated for excessive bleeding, according to a statement by Lt. Col. Lungelo Dlamini. At the time of the report, Police Capt. Shado Mashobane explained to ABC that the girl was still in recovery at the hospital.
Authorities have declined to file charges and plan on discussing the case with the Director for Public Prosecutions once their investigation has been finalized.
In the meantime, a Chicago spokesperson for Winfrey’s Academy explained that it would not comment on the incident because the girl is still a minor.
This isn’t the first time Winfrey’s Academy has seen scandal darken its hallways. In 2007, a school matron, Virginia Tiny Makopo, was charged with sexually molesting several of the Academy’s young girls.
In the aftermath, Winfrey fired the academy’s headmistress, Lerato Nomvuyo Mzamane, and Makopo was acquitted of the charges last October, leaving Winfrey “profoundly disappointed” by the ruling.
Sexual misconduct was, once again, the issue at hand in March 2009 when four of the academy’s girls were expelled and another three were suspended for alleged “inappropriate behaviors,” which reportedly included “sexual misconduct,” toward other students.
In view of the scandals, some questions the merits of Winfrey’s pet project, but situations are prone to arise at any institution of its nature. Although Winfrey will likely handle this tragedy with appropriate care, it would, of course, do her and the academy well to give more focus to comprehensive sexual education for their pupils.