HC Deb 01 May 1906 vol 156 cc397-9
SIR H. COTTON) (Nottingham, E.

I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to make any statement regarding the charges of cruelty and torture to Chinese coolies which have been brought against Li-Kiu-Lu, who was a Chinese police sergeant at the Langlaate or Crœsus mine in the Transvaal.


It was reported to the Superintendent of Foreign Labour †See Col. 21–23. that Li-Kiu-Lu, police sergeant at the Consolidated Langlaagte Mine, was in the habit of flogging coolies, and in one case tied a coolie up by the thumbs: he was also accused of selling opium and gin. The superintendent had good reason to believe the report and took steps to cause Li to be repatriated. It was difficult to get the coolies to give evidence, as they were afraid of Li and of the Chinese controller, under whose directions it is believed Li was acting. The controller, a man named Witthauer, has been dismissed, and another appointed in his place, and the superintendent reports that in consequence the state of things is more satisfactory. Li was sent to Durban in course of repatriation, but was brought back to the Transvaal by order of the Supreme Court on his application for a writ of Habeas Corpus against the superintendent. He has now instituted an action against the superintendent for damages for false imprisonment and cannot be repatriated pending that action.

MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.)

asked by whom the expense of sending Li to Durban was borne.


said the expenses of coolies repatriated for misconduct under the Ordinance were borne by the importer.

* MR. MACKARNESS (Berkshire, Newbury)

asked whether any prosecution was to be instituted, seeing that this controller, Witthauer, had in the presence of witnesses admitted to the Superintendent of Foreign Labour that he had ordered the flogging of Chinese.


thought the circumstances conveyed in his Answer would suggest that the machinery of justice in South Africa worked very independently both of Government and other influences; but Lord Elgin had directed an inquiry to be made whether there was a case that would justify a criminal prosecution.


I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is able to give any official information regarding the truth of the charges of torture and cruelty to Chinese coolies which have been publicly made against Messrs. Wilson and Sutherland, compound manager and police officer respectively, employed on the New Kleinfontein Mine in the Transvaal.


The Secretary of State has received the following information in a telegram from Lord Selborne: "An enquiry was at request of the acting lieutenant-governor held last month by Buckle, first civil magistrate, Johannesburg, into certain charges of flogging coolies of the New Kleinfontein mine. The enquiry was held on the mine and lasted three days. Johnson, who made charges, was given every opportunity of supporting them. All the Chinese coolies were marched past him, so that he might identify those he says were flogged. He selected eight. He gave the names of twelve European witnesses to Buckle, who, he said, could corroborate his statements. Eight of these were examined; the other four could not be traced. The eight examined flatly contradicted Johnson's statements. Of the coolies identified by Johnson as having been beaten, five entirely denied having been beaten or having either seen or heard of anyone else being beaten; the other three contradicted one another. Wilson and Sutherland were also examined, and stoutly denied the charges against them; other white employees on the mine were examined, and denied that any flogging had taken place. Mr. Buckle, in his Report, says that there is no corroboration worth considering of Johnson's charges of assault, while there is a considerable body of evidence contradicting them. He also says that from the demeanour of the coolies who gave evidence before him, he is satisfied that they are not terrorised into silence by fear of the compound authorities, and further that in his judgment Wilson is not a man likely to be guilty of brutality." Lord Selborne is transmitting Mr. Buckle's full Report to the Secretary of State by mail.