Dewani murder features in stalker case

2011-09-19 22:35
Cape Town - The honeymoon murder of Anni Dewani prompted British photojournalist Shumsheer Singh Ghumman to travel to South Africa, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Monday.

Ghumman faced charges of fraud, incitement to commit murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.

He told the court he intended doing a photo-story on dangerous criminals in the Cape Flats.

He has pleaded guilty to petrol-bombing the home of business executive Philip Rhind, in Clifton.

The former bank investment manager said he did this to vent his anger at Rhind's interference with his relationship with Rhind's daughter, Hannah.

Convenient

He told the court on Monday of his contact with a United Kingdom friend Michael (Mickey) Attwood, who had connections with the media in Cape Town and was to help set up interviews for Ghumman with dangerous criminals.

"When I first contacted Mickey, I was only interested in taking photos of active, dangerous criminals but, after the Dewani incident, I decided to do a full-length photo-article," said Ghumman.

State advocate Billy Downer said it was convenient for Ghumman to hide behind Attwood to avoid taking responsibility.

Ghumman replied: "It would have been far more convenient if I had not been involved with Mickey, and had arranged everything myself."

Drinking buddy

Downer referred to Ghumman's meeting in a pub with paroled criminal Siyabelela Yalezo, the day after Ghumman had interviewed him in a township.

Ghumman said he had needed a drinking buddy.

"Why did you need a drinking buddy from the township, when there were many in the backpacker [hostel] where you were staying?" Downer asked.

Ghumman said his need for a drinking buddy was one of the many reasons for his meeting with Yalezo in the pub.

"Given the amount of travelling that I've done worldwide, backpacker residents are very much the same in conversation, and you get sick of it," he said,

Senior defence counsel Francois van Zyl objected several times to Downer's line of questioning.

Information

After one such interruption, Ghumman remarked: "In the last session of cross-examination, my counsel had to interrupt 41 times."

He said another reason for the pub meeting was that he wanted information about Hanover Park, a gang-infested residential area in the Cape Flats.

"There were multiple reasons for my wanting to have a drink with him," he said.

Downer said it did not make sense that Ghumman should phone someone the next day for a drink, whose number he had not wanted the day before, but had reluctantly accepted.

Ghumman said it did make sense to him. One of the reasons for the meeting was to ask where he could get paint-stripper, he said.

"It is odd to ask someone to come a long distance from the township, just to tell you where to find a hardware store," said Downer.

Ghumman said he did not know what South African hardware stores looked like.

The trial continues on Tuesday.
- SAPA
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