Wed, 23 Feb 2000

Puzzle surrounds beating of Nigerian in C. Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): Central Jakarta Police transferred a Nigerian, who Cempaka Putih residents beat after he was accused of raping a housemaid, to Jakarta Police Headquarters on Monday for further investigation, an officer said.

The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and detectives refused to divulge on Tuesday the results of their preliminary investigation.

The Central Jakarta Police officers, who detained the man shortly after the incident on Saturday, said the case was now under the authority of the Jakarta Police Headquarters. The latter had not issued a statement on the case as of Tuesday.

Police sources said on Sunday the 27-year-old Nigerian, who lived in a room rented by his brother on Jl. Murdai in Cempaka Putih, was badly beaten by local residents early on Saturday.

Officers said the man, identified as Sunday Uche, had tried to leave the house but was caught by local residents. Uche and his brother were garment traders.

But they said the investigation remained preliminary because questioning continued of Uche and the woman, identified as Ni, 21.

A thief

The owner of the house, Afrizal, said on Tuesday the mob mistook the Nigerian, who had lived in the house for two months, for a thief.

He said the incident began when he saw Ni crying on Saturday but the woman would not explain why.

He asked some of the other occupants of the house but they too did not know the reason.

"Then Nemi, another maid, told me that Ni was raped by Uche," Afrizal said.

He said he confronted the Nigerian and became angry when he denied the accusation.

"I was kind of emotional that night and tried to force him to admit what he had done to her," he said.

Afrizal said he threatened to call the police and the Nigerian panicked and tried to flee along the house's roof.

"But local residents saw him and mistook him for a thief," he added.

Alarmed by the beating, Afrizal called the police.

He explained that Ni began working for him earlier this month.

"They had met each other, but I had no idea that they were already involved in a serious relationship until I heard it from Nemi a few days before the incident," he said.

Afrizal said he told the maid not to become involved with boarders at the house, especially a foreigner like Uche whose immigration status was problematic.

Asked why he tried to pressure Uche into admitting he raped the woman, Afrizal said: "We thought that they had 'made love' that night because they love each other."

He only learned later that Ni was crying because Uche told her he would soon move from the house. (06)