Sosilawati murder: Maid heard woman scream twice, saw huge bonfire

An Indonesian maid yesterday told the High Court hearing the case of the murder of cosmetics millionairess Sosilawati Lawiya and three others that she heard a woman scream twice in the plantation area in Jalan Tanjung Layang, Tanjung Sepat.

The 33rd prosecution witness, Siti Hamidah Karnax, 18, said she heard a woman screaming at 9pm on Aug 20, 2010, while she was mixing a tosai batter, a type of Indian food, at the workers hostel there.

Asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Idham Abd Ghani her to the screams, Siti Hamidah said she carried on with her work like normal.

Asked how the scream sounded like, she said: “Aaaaaaahh” “Aaaaaaah”. The second scream came one or two seconds after the first.

Siti Hamidah from Sunda, Indonesia, was the maid of lawyer N.Pathmanabhan, 42, and plantation worker R.Khatavarayan, 31, who are on trial with farm hands R.Thilaiyalagan, 20, and R.Matan, 21, for the murder of Sosilawati, 47.

The four are also accused of murdering CIMB Kampung Baru branch bank officer, Noorhisham Mohammad, 38, Sosilawati’s lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32, and her chauffeur, Kamarudin Shamsuddin, 44, in Jalan Tanjung Layang Tanjung Sepat, Banting, between 8.30pm and 9.45pm on Aug 30, 2010.

Siti Hamidah said the others at the workers hostel were watching television and eating tosai served by Khatavarayan’s wife. At 1am on Aug 31, 2010, she was directed by Jacinta to take several items from the karaoke centre in the plantation.

Siti Hamidah said Jacinta had ordered her earlier to gather several items, including two T-shirts, track pants, towel, shampoo, talcum powder, pail and turmeric, and place them at the back door of the hostel.

On arriving at the karaoke centre, Siti Hamidah said she saw the items scattered on the floor, the towel was damp and the turmeric had been mixed with water.

It was then that she saw Khatavarayan with four plantation workers, but the first accused, N.Patmanabhan, was not there.

Siti Hamidah said she saw a big fire near the house in which Thilaiyalagan lived at the plantation.

“The fire was as high as an oil palm,” she said. It was not the first time she saw a blaze at the, but this was the biggest,
she said.

Siti Hamidah said that she had also seen a fire on the plantation when a man named Raja from India visited, and another time when a man named Syafik came by.

She also said that from the window she saw something big and reddish blown by the wind before 1am on Aug 31, 2010.

The witness told the court that through the window she saw three men and a woman with shoulder-length hair wearing a blue jacket at the small rest hut in the plantation at 7pm on Aug 30, 2010.

However, Siti Hamidah said, she did not know the race of the four individuals.

She said that on Aug 30, 2010, Jacinta had asked her and several plantation  workers to enter the hostel and close the doors and windows before 5pm.

She was then directed by Jacinta to take a parang for Khatavarayan and she took two parangs and a knife on a shelf in Khatavarayan’s room.

Siti Hamidah then placed the parangs and knife behind the door and saw Khatavarayan put the items into a grey Isuzu D-Max four-wheel drive.

She said she then saw Pathmanabhan come by to discuss with Khatavarayan outside, after which Khatavarayan entered the car looking alarmed.

During interrogation by defence counsel Manjeet Singh Dhillon, Siti Hamidah admitted to lying about her age in her passport, which stated 23 instead of her actual age of 15, so she could enter Malaysia and work as a maid in Kelantan in

Siti Hamidah said she fled from her employer in Kelantan after she was hit for waking up late and left for Kuala Lumpur to work with Pathmanabhan in March 2009.

She also said that Pathmanabhan’s wife had hit her with an oil palm frond and that Khatavarayan and Jacinta caned her.

Asked by Manjeet why she did not run away like she did in Kelantan, she said: “Running away will not help matters.”

Siti Hamidah said that people who run away would be beaten even worse if captured. She denied being promised a reward after the case was solved.

Interrogated by Ravi Nekko, Khatavarayan’s counsel, she disagreed that it rained on Aug 30, 2010.

Siti Hamidah also said that Khatavarayan bathed using turmeric whenever there was a fire at the plantation.

The hearing before JudgeAkhtar Tahir resumes today.