Stalker wanted to picnic in cemetery
Cape Town - An Australian, convicted in the UK of harassment for stalking a South African woman, petrol-bombed the woman's parental home in Clifton, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Tuesday.
The woman, Hannah Rhind, told the court that two flaming bottles filled with petrol were hurled onto the balcony of her parental home, and on one of the bottles was some tape with the words, "For Hannah".
Shumsheer Singh Ghumman, who held a managerial post with a major investment bank in the UK, but lost it after his arrest in Cape Town, pleaded guilty to a charge of malicious damage, relating to the petrol bomb incident, and another of malicious injury to property.
On the malicious injury to property charge, he is alleged to have slashed the tyres of the car belonging to Rhind's mother.
However, he pleaded not guilty to charges of incitement to commit murder, attempted murder, alternatively arson, and fraud, when he appeared before Magistrate Herman Pieters.
Rhind, 29, told the court she had lived in Cape Town most of her life but now worked in the UK.
She said she met Ghumman three times - at a dinner party in London, when they later picnicked together, and the third time when she attended a cocktail function.
Although her relationship with Ghumman was "entirely platonic", he wanted a romantic one.
Rhind said he wanted to walk her home after the dinner party. She allowed him to walk only a short distance with her.
On the occasion of the picnic, he at first would not tell her where they were going but, when she insisted, he said they were going to a cemetery.
She told the court: "I refused, and we instead went to a park."
He bombarded her with e-mails afterwards as if they were in a romantic relationship, she said.
Two years ago, she e-mailed him that she wanted no further contact with him, and he then started sending her abusive SMS messages.
Rhind said she later bumped into him at the cocktail function, and when she saw him approaching her she fled, jumped into a taxi and went home.
As her fear for him increased, she informed the police as well as her parents, and her father demanded a written undertaking from Ghumman that he would never contact her again.
"The craziness of his e-mails got crazier, as if he had a fantasy in his head," she told the court.
In October 2009, he sent her another e-mail which he ended with the words, "Take care, little one".
This e-mail made her feel threatened, causing her to flee from her apartment to the police.
Rhind said his harassment continued, and he was last year convicted in a London court of harassment.
She said she returned to her parental home in Clifton but, when the petrol-bombing incident happened, she had already returned to the UK.
The trial continues on Wednesday.