KUALA LUMPUR: A good friend of Rumah Bonda founder Siti Bainun Ahd Razali told the Sessions Court here on Wednesday (March 30) that the teenage girl who suffered from Down Syndrome known as Bella did confide in her that she had been scalded with hot water, had chilli rubbed on her and tied up.
An assistant manager of a company, Zurianty Sudin, 39, said Bella told her about what happened to her when they were in an ambulance heading to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and she looked traumatised when doing so.
“While we were in the ambulance, I asked Bella what happened. Bella, who called me ‘mommy’ said she had chilli rubbed on her, scalded by hot water and was tied,” she said during the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Raya Zilfinaz Abbas during Siti Bainun’s trial, who faces charged of neglecting and abusing the 13-year old girl.
The first prosecution witness, who was known Siti Bainun since 2015, said that as soon as they arrived at the hospital, the girl was unable to walk properly and had trouble moving because her legs hurt.
“I saw that Bella seemed exhausted and she said her legs hurt, but I could not hold her because I was afraid she might be infected with Covid-19.
“Bella also mentioned several names who she said had done some acts to her,” the witness said.
According to Zuriaty, while she was at the hospital, Siti Bainun did not ask about how Bella was but instead questioned why the children under her care were brought to the quarantine centre at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), Serdang.
The witness said Bella was a person with disabilities (PwD) who was adopted by her friend in July 2020, and since then, Bella has stayed with Siti Bainun and was under her care.
When she read the police report she lodged on June 24, 2021 earlier, Zuriaty said Bella had suffered injuries such as burns to her hands, chest, thighs and several other areas as well as old scars on parts of her body.
The witness answered Zilfinaz’s question and explained that the police report was lodged over the injuries and signs of abuse found on the girl’s body.
Sharing a more detailed picture of Bella, the witness said even though she suffered from Down Syndrome, Bella was a very good, sweet, hard-working and independent girl who could manage herself and was very tidy.
When asked about Siti Bainun’s relationship with the girl, Zuriaty said that they were very good initially as Siti Bainun seemed to dote on Bella and tried to win her over by buying the things Bella wanted.
“Bella liked ‘make up’, tumblers because she loved to drink water and new clothes but by August 2020, I could see there was some distance between them when Siti Bainun refused to take Bella out to Kuala Selangor to visit Siti Bainun’s brother-in-law,” the witness said.
Zuriaty said she asked Siti Bainun about the reasons behind her refusal and was told that the girl liked to act up and was stubborn.
The witness explained that she took Bella to Kuala Selangor in her car after Siti Bainun refused to do so.
“Throughout the visit, Siti Bainun ignored Bella and did not ask whether she had eaten or not.
“My observation was that Bella did not act up and was not stubborn, and when she was thirsty she went to get some water herself,” the witness said, adding that she had been with Siti Bainun in Kuala Selangor on that day.
Siti Bainun, 30, pleaded not guilty on two counts of abandonment and abusing a 13-year-old Down Syndrome teenage girl that resulted in the victim sustaining physical and emotional injuries in a condominium in Wangsa Maju here between February and June 2021, under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment or a RM50,000 fine or both.
The trial in front of Judge Izralizam Sanusi will resume on Thursday (March 31). – Bernama