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Colonial Cases

R. v. Mita Ab Doolah, 1874

[employment law, "Malay" woman]


R. v. Mita Ab Doolah

Police Court, Palmerston
Price SM, 24 September 1874
Source: Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 26 September 1874, p 3




(Before Mr. E. W. Price, S.M.)

Mita Ab Doolah, a Malay woman, was charged on the information of V. F. Smith with having deserted the service of Mrs. Cox, and remained away without any just excuse or authority to do so.

Mr. Rudall appeared for the defendant.

Mr. Smith, in opening the case, said that some brutal slanders had been circulated on the subject, apparently on the authority of Inspector Foelsche; but it would be shown that they were without the slightest foundation.

Catherine Mary Cox stated that she had a written agreement with the defendant, who left her service on Saturday, the 19th inst., without permission to do so. She left in the day and returned in the evening, when witness scolded her, and she excused herself by saying that her husband, who was in gaol, had sent for her. The next morning witness found that she had gone again. She had no excuse for going, and no permission to do so.

Mr. Rudall cross-examined Mrs. Cox, with a view to show that whilst the defendant was in her service Malay men had come to the house and spent the night with the defendant, an allegation which Mrs. Cox altogether denied, excepting that on one occasion a Malay named Tinga was found in bed with defendant.

By Mr. Smith-Immediately caused that Malay to be turned out of the house when he was found there. Had laid an information against another Malay (Luie) for coming to the house and trying to force his way in. Mary Cox, who resided with the last witness said that there was a disturbance on the previous Friday evening at the back of the house. Was positive no man had been allowed to go into the Malay woman's room for any improper purpose during the time witness had lived there. Must have known of such a circumstance; and was confident that nothing of the sort had occurred.

A Malay named Serang Batjoe confirmed this evidence, and said he had turned Tinga out of the house.

By Mr. Rudall-Luie had come there and made a noise last Friday night when a Malay named Beery was inside the house. Luie complained of men coming there, and wanted to take the woman away, because her husband had told him to. Beery was lying on the floor. Witness was there with his wife, who was Mrs. Cox's servant; and the defendant was in bed.

Mrs. Cox said that in Batavia, the servants slept in one room, the same as in this case. Her own children slept in the same room. Trooper Lees said on Friday evening Mrs. Cox sent for the police, because the Malay, Luie, had tried to get into the house.

Another witness, Beery, a Malay, was called, and said he slept in the same room with the defendant and the other Malay and his wife. He remained there that night to do some work the next morning. Mrs. Cox told him to sleep there, and he did so, and also on the following night (Saturday), when Luie came and wanted Mita. He called out-"Who is sleeping with her?" Witness himself was sleeping with her. Mrs. Cox told him to sleep in the same room, and witness slept in the same bed. She said he was to sleep with Mita. The Special Magistrate said if that was the case it was quite a sufficient reason for the servant leaving her place.

Mr. Smith said the statement could be shown to be utterly untrue. He cross-examined the witness, who said that Mita was present in the evening when Mrs. Cox told him where to sleep. Had since talked with Ab Doola, and told him that Mrs. Cox allowed him to sleep with Mita. Had not been told by anyone what to say on this subject. Another witness, a female Malay servant, said she was present on Friday evening, and did not hear Mrs. Cox tell the Malay to sleep with defendant. Did not hear what Mrs. Cox said; did not see Beery sleeping with Mita; but close alongside. Mrs. Cox, on being recalled, said she never told the Malay to sleep with defendant. Hired him to go to the Peninsula the following morning. Told him he could sleep with the Serang; and he lay down to sleep with his clothes on. Paid him 5s. through the Serang for going to the Peninsula.

Mr. Smith submitted that the evidence showed the whole defence to be an infamous conspiracy.

Mr. Rudall called evidence for the defence. Tinga, a Malay, said on the evening of the 19th he went with Luie to Mrs. Cox's house, and asked the Serang, to open the door to let him see who was inside. The Serang said Mrs. Cox had the key. Luie then made a noise, wanting to know then was inside; and on Mrs. Cox opening the door, Luie asked Mrs. Cox to turn Beery out, because he was inside sleeping with Mita; and Mrs. Cox sent for the police. Witness had never been in the house himself. Another witness (Luie) said that whilst Ah Doolah was away Mrs. Ah Doolah (Mita) was left in his charge. Was passing Mrs. Cox's house with last witness when he heard Mita making a noise as though driving some one away. Therefore asked the Serang who was inside kicking up a row with Ah Doolah's wife? Serang said the door was locked and Mrs. Cox had the key. Afterwards Mrs. Cox asked what was the matter, and witness asked what was the row with Ab Doolah's wife. Mrs. Cox then told witness to go away, as it was 12 o'clock, and witness then went to Inspector Foelsche. The next night (Saturday) witness took defendant to Mr. Foelsche, as she complained about what Mrs. Cox had wished her to do.

By Mr. Smith-Defendant had never slept with witness anywhere, either at Bieber's or any other place. Had never claimed defendant as his wife because of having lent money to Ah Doolah.

Another witness, Mr. Foelsche, said that defendant came to his place with last witness before day-light on Sunday morning; and she had remained there until now. She refused to go back to Mrs. Cox's, because she had been wanted to sleep with Beery. Had never harbored the woman; and had not laid an information against Mrs. Cox because he had no proofs. The woman seemed very agitated when she came there on Sunday morning.

Several witnesses were recalled to contradict the evidence of Tinga; but the Court dismissed the case, the Magistrate remarking that he could not believe that Mrs. Cox told the Malay man to sleep with the defendant. Still she must have known that he was there, and that was a just excuse for the defendant leaving the place.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School