Editor: Stalker tricked me

2011-08-04 20:12

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Cape Town - A news agency editor on Thursday testified in the Cape Town Regional Court that he was "rather upset" to learn that a British journalist he helped with a story about violent crime in Cape Town was bogus, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Thursday.

West Cape News agency editor Steven Kretzman was testifying in the trial of Shumsheer Singh Ghumman on charges of fraud, incitement to commit murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.

An Australian based in the Britain, Ghumman was an investment manager at a major bank in the UK before his arrest in Cape Town.

The charges arise from his "fantasised romance" with Capetonian Hannah Rhind, who has a public relations post in the UK.

False name

Ghumman allegedly came up with a plan to kill her father Phillip Rhind by setting fire to his home in Clifton, because the dad had tried to stop the Australian man harassing his daughter.

As part of the plan, Ghumman allegedly pretended to be a freelance British journalist on an assignment about violent crime in Cape Town.

This led to his contact with consultant journalist Raymond Joseph, of Cape Town, who arranged for him to meet Kretzman.

For the purposes of the assignment, Ghumman went under the false name of Michael Kirkham.

Kretzman told the court he knew Ghumman as Michael, and it was only after his arrest that he realised that he had been taken in.

He had arranged for one of his reporters to introduce Ghumman to a violent criminal in Cape Town for a fee of R1 600. Kretzman said he was paid only R500.

However, instead of interviewing the criminal, Ghumman allegedly offered him money to kill Phillip Rhind. He declined.

Felt cheated, uncomfortable

Ghumman then proceeded with the plan on his own.

Kretzman told the court he was initially in two minds about whether to assist "Michael" given the nature of the British media's coverage of South Africa.

"I now feel uncomfortable and cheated. In future I will ask a lot more questions if approached by anyone again," he told the court.

He would never have become involved with Ghumman had he known his true motives, he said.

Questioned by senior defence counsel Francois van Zyl, Kretzman said the use of a pseudonym in journalism was frowned upon, unless there was a convincing reason.

The case continues on August 16.
- SAPA
Read more on:    shumsheer singh ghumman  |  cape town
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