Publicity hurts Aussie 'stalker'

2011-02-24 19:13

Cape Town - Publicity in South Africa has impacted severely on alleged Australian stalker Shumsheer Singh Ghumman, the Cape Town Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday.

Ghumman, 32, a chartered accountant employed as a fund manager for a major investment bank in the United Kingdom, was making his sixth court appearance on charges including conspiracy to commit murder.

He has been in custody for longer than a month in Cape Town, and was recently convicted of harassment in the UK, for stalking a female friend Hannah Rhind, who he met in the UK two years ago.

The charge sheet gives his address as Cavendish Road, London.

At Thursday's proceedings, senior counsel Billy Downer, of the Western Cape directorate for public prosecutions, said an identity parade was held late on Wednesday.

Ghumman also faces charges of attempted murder, arson and malicious damage.

On the arson and malicious damage charges, he is alleged to have petrol-bombed the Rhind's family home in Clifton.

At Thursday's proceedings, Downer said the identity parade had been positive, and requested a postponement to March 18 for further investigation.

UK investigation

Downer said Ghumman was a UK resident, and there were aspects in the UK that needed to be investigated for the South African case.

He asked for Ghumman to be transferred from the Cape Town police holding cells to the Goodwood Prison.

Should Ghumman decide to launch a bail application at any stage, it would be opposed, Downer said.

The defence team, Advocate Philip Higgo and attorney Gerhard van der Merwe, gave the court a lengthy history of abortive identity parades and said the one held on Wednesday had been "farcical".

Higgo said this was due to the many photographs of Ghumman that had appeared in the media.

Downer said this was irrelevant to the proceedings and that the State disputed much of what Higgo was saying.

Higgo said there were no plans for a bail application, but that Ghumman's family in the UK was gravely concerned that he was being tried by the media instead of a court of law.

Downer said the State was still open to plea-bargain proceedings, which would involve a plea of guilty and the sentence.

Magistrate Juhstree Steyn said his court was exclusively for first appearances and bail applications, and that Ghumman's next appearance would take place in a different courtroom.