There were many estates on which working conditions for indentured Indians were good; on others conditions were bad. Among the latter was the estate of J. Meikle. Five Indians working on this estate lodged complaints with the Protector of Indian Immigrants in February 1884. The testimony of one of their number, Bhagoo, is reproduced below. It is dated 19 February 1884. Source: I.I./1/18, 18911884, Natal Archives.
I am indentured to Mr. J. Meikle. Five of the men who were assigned with me ran away as they were ill-treated, and about a fortnight ago one of my sons named Augna (25980) about 10 years of age left the estate and has not been heard of since. The circumstances of his leaving were, he had 50 sheep to look after and one evening one did not return with the rest, the boy also through fear stayed away. The missing sheep afterwards returned and the boy also. The next morning Mr. Meikle with Mrs. Meikle's approval tied the boy's hands together with a strap and hung him naked to a rafter in the dining-room and thrashed him with a hunting crop. The boy was kept hanging for an hour about two feet from the ground and when breakfast time came he was taken down and sent off with the sheep as usual. He went but as stated never returned.
For one week before I left the estate search was made for the boy when off work but he could not be found. On two occasions after the boy left and could not be found, Mr. Meikle beat me and my wife suspecting that we took food to the boy at night.
I am served with (Junari) Kaffir Ammabella one month; and with mealy meal another; I also get salt and dhal but no fish, ghee or rice.
I work seven weeks for a month's wages. This has been the case for the last 2 years. When I went first to the estate I worked only 4 and 5 weeks to a month. I have not received any wages for 4 months.
Not a day passes without one or another of the Indians on Mr. Meikle's farm being thrashed. I have often lost clothes, pots [unclear] from my house while at work but can never find out who takes them.
My house is daily searched by Mr. and Mrs. Meikle and the children. I work a portion of the day on Sunday. No extra pay is given for Sunday work. The other Coolies on the estate witnessed my son being beaten. I refuse to return to the estate.