9 months’ jail for maid abuser whose helper ran away after she was assaulted multiple times

SINGAPORE - A woman who was unhappy with her domestic helper struck her in the face, and the victim – after enduring multiple acts of abuse – fled from her assailant’s Woodlands flat before making her way to a police station on Nov 18, 2020.

The Indonesian maid, Ms Reni, 46, who goes by only one name and did not have any days off during her employment with her attacker, was found with injuries including facial bruises and wounds on her back.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Foong Ke Hui said: “The victim was subsequently housed in the Indonesian Embassy. The victim did not receive her salary throughout her employment with the accused. The victim received her salary from the accused only when she was staying at the embassy.”

District Judge Tan Jen Tse, who had earlier convicted the maid’s Singaporean abuser, Arni Moani, 58, on an assault charge on Oct 13 after a trial, said there was no doubt that the maid had suffered painful injuries to her face.

Arni later pleaded guilty to two more counts of maid abuse, and on Thursday, she was sentenced to nine months’ jail over the three assault charges.

Two other assault charges involving the maid were considered during sentencing, and Arni was also ordered to pay Ms Reni $4,615 as compensation.

Arni had employed Ms Reni in February 2020, at which time she also had another Indonesian helper, Ms Anis Sholekah, working for her, said the prosecutor.

At the time of the offences, Arni was catering food items such as curry puffs for a friend’s stall. The two maids were tasked to help in preparing the food.

The DPP said: “The food items had to be delivered to the food stall at around 5am every day, so the victim and Anis had to work in the early morning to prepare (them).

“The victim and Anis also had to complete household chores such as cleaning the house and doing laundry in the day, when the accused was working at the food stall.”

The prosecutor added that Ms Reni did not own a mobile phone.

She could contact her family members in Indonesia only with Arni’s permission, and had to use either Arni’s phone or those belonging to Arni’s family members.

DPP Foong added: “The victim and Anis worked long hours during her employment with the accused. The victim was a slow worker, and she usually worked at a slower pace than Anis, who was more experienced.

“Due to the long hours, the victim occasionally also dozed off while working. The accused was frustrated with the victim’s work performance from the start of her employment.”

On at least four occasions between September and November 2020, Arni pinched Ms Reni’s left arm. Her fingernails caused the victim’s skin to break, but did not draw blood.

Despite this, the pinches resulted in permanent scars on the maid’s arm.

On or around Nov 16, 2020, Arni used a ladle to hit Ms Reni’s back, causing her to yell in pain.

About two days later, Arni hit Ms Reni’s face on or around her right eye. The maid then left the flat on Nov 18 and took a taxi to Woodlands Police Divisional Headquarters.

Judge Tan had said: “Reni’s conduct in running away from the accused’s apartment and seeking help from the police supported her claim that an incident with the accused occurred that morning. She was in such a state of distress that she even left all her belongings behind.

“She also told (a police officer) that the accused had hit her on her face. There was no reason for her to lie about how she suffered the injuries.”

The defence had claimed that the injuries could have been self-inflicted or caused by some other means.

The judge said this was based on speculation and had no factual basis.

He added: “More importantly, Reni’s evidence was corroborated by Anis who... testified that she saw the accused and Reni arguing, and that Reni said ‘pain’. (Anis) testified that she saw the accused hitting Reni.

“She proceeded to block the accused so as to prevent her from further assaulting Reni.”

Judge Tan noted that Ms Anis had held Arni in high regard, and felt that the offender was like her own mother. There was no bad blood between them, he said.

Arni’s bail was set at $15,000 on Thursday. She has to surrender herself at the State Courts on Dec 5 to begin serving her sentence.

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