Mawlee’s Murder: A Minor Historical Event

History

The purpose of this article is to recover a minor historical event – the event of murder. On Tuesday, March 11, 1890, eighteen year old Mawlee was brutally killed at the Rarawai Plantation in Ba, Fiji. After an interval of six to eight weeks, this crime was reported locally in The Fiji Times (‘Murder in Fiji’, 1890: 6) and internationally in The Advertiser (‘Dreadful Murder at Fiji’, 1890: 7) and Auckland Star(‘Murder at Fiji: A Dreadful Affair’, 1890: 5). The publication of these stories coincided with the death sentence meted out to indentured labourer, Dhunnoo, by the Supreme Court in Nausori. On May 5, the Court heard that the accused and deceased were living together as man and wife until Mawlee left Dhunnoo to live with indentured labourer, Badloo. Then on March 11 as Mawlee was returning from work carrying a bundle of firewood, a hoe and a billycan (a metal pot used to carry food), she was confronted by Dhunnoo and dragged into the cane. An eye-witness recounted:

She clasped her hands and implored him not to kill her, saying that she would go and live again with him. The accused then struck her a blow on the hands, severing one completely at the wrist and severing the other all but the skin; he then struck her two blows on the throat, almost cutting her head from the body, only leaving it hanging by a small piece of skin. (‘Dreadful Murder at Fiji’, 1890: 7)

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Submitted by Margaret Mishra
April 1, 2021
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