BUKIT MERTAJAM (Penang) • A day before she died, 21-year-old Adelina sat on the porch of her employer's home, too terrified to respond to rescuers.
The domestic worker only glanced at them and shook her head. A black Rottweiler, tethered beside her, barked at the rescuers.
Neighbours claimed the woman from Medan, Indonesia, had been forced to sleep with the Rottweiler on the porch for over a month before she was rescued last Saturday.
Ms Adelina died on Sunday in hospital. The employer and her brother are being investigated for murder.
Her rescuers - assistants to Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim - went to the double-storey semi-detached house last Saturday after being alerted by a journalist.
One of the rescuers, Mr Por Cheng Han, 29, said neighbours told them Ms Adelina was abused for over a month and made to sleep with the Rottweiler on the porch.
"We arrived and saw her on the porch. She did not respond to us...
"We spoke to the neighbours, who told us they often heard the employer scolding her loudly from inside the house," he said.
He said he saw pus on what appeared to be burn marks on the maid's legs. "There was a woman in her 60s at the house when we arrived," said Mr Por, adding that she refused to send the maid to the hospital and told them to mind their own business.
Instead, Mr Por said, he was given the phone number of the woman's daughter - Ms Adelina's employer - who denied abusing the maid and told them to wait for her to return.
He said they then contacted Tenaganita, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to protecting migrants from abuse.
Mr Por said when the employer returned, she said she had not mistreated the maid but admitted to having slapped her in the past.
The employer allegedly told him she had bought a cleaning chemical after the maid defecated in the kitchen's drain hole, clogging it up.
"She claimed that the maid had accidentally spilt the chemical on her legs and arms when pouring this into the drain hole, causing chemical burns, and that despite being provided with medication, she did not stop picking at her wounds, making them worse," said Mr Por.
He added that before Tenaganita volunteers could arrive, the employer bundled Ms Adelina into her car and drove out of the house. He then called the police.
Central Seberang Prai Assistant Commissioner Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abdul Hamid said the 36-year-old woman and her 39-year-old brother have been detained.
Mr Nik Ros said Ms Adelina, who came to work in Malaysia about two years ago, had a swollen head and face, as well as injuries to her feet.
"Attempts to record statements from her were unsuccessful as she was still in fear.
"We sent her to Bukit Mertajam Hospital where she died," he said.
The man and woman have been remanded until tomorrow for investigation under Section 302 of Malaysia's Penal Code for murder.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK