Ex-army warrant officer gets jail for maid abuse

K. Rajakumari was convicted of hurting her maid, including hitting her with a plastic hanger until it broke.
K. Rajakumari was convicted of hurting her maid, including hitting her with a plastic hanger until it broke.

An army warrant officer repeatedly abused her maid in 2012, and once even hit the latter with a plastic hanger until it broke.

When a policeman later attended to the case, K. Rajakumari, 57, who has since retired after 35 years of service, apologised to Indian national Sargunam Jeeva in Tamil and told her not to tell anyone about her ordeal.

But the police officer understood the language and Rajakumari was caught.

Rajakumari was sentenced to four months and three weeks' jail yesterday.

After a 14-day trial, District Judge Imran Abdul Hamid convicted her on Sept 5 last year of five counts of causing hurt to Ms Jeeva, then 35, in a Canberra Drive condominium near Sembawang Road between February and March 2012.

Ms Jeeva first came to Singapore in late January 2012. Rajakumari had picked the maid up and later removed from her belongings a Ministry of Manpower pamphlet and other materials with contact details written on them.

Ms Jeeva was to be paid $350 a month without days off. She had studied up to the eighth grade and could not speak English.

By the second week of February 2012, Rajakumari would scold her regularly. But the abuse soon became physical.

On the night of March 3, 2012, after Ms Jeeva ironed Rajakumari's uniform, her employer threw it onto a dresser and chided the maid for not knowing how to do a proper job of ironing.

Rajakumari then hit Ms Jeeva on her left upper arm with a plastic hanger until it broke.

Two days later, Rajakumari told Ms Jeeva to heat up some briyani from the previous day.

But the food had gone bad and the maid was scolded and slapped hard on the face.

Rajakumari then pulled Ms Jeeva by her hair and pushed her against some window grilles, causing her face to hit the grilles. The maid fell and, as she tried to get back up, Rajakumari kicked her on the waist.

Ms Jeeva told the employer: "(I) cannot withstand this torture any more... Please send me back to the agent's house."

But Rajakumari told her this was not possible.

That night, Ms Jeeva gestured to a maid in a neighbouring home for help and the latter called the police.

Rajakumari's lawyer, Mr Kalidass Murugaiyan, had earlier asked the judge to sentence his client to probation, stressing that she has had three hip replacements.

For each count of maid abuse, she could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-army warrant officer gets jail for maid abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe