A third witness has identified convicted UK stalker Shumsheer Singh Ghumman, 32, as the man police suspect of attempting to hire a hit man in an attempt to murder Cape Town businessman Philip Rhind.This emerged during Ghumman’s sixth court appearance on Thursday at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for a scheduled bail hearing.
But the bail hearing was yesterday postponed for a further three weeks to allow for further investigation by the state, who also made it clear they would continue to oppose any future bail applications.
Ghumman, who allegedly tried to hire a hitman in Cape Town before petrol-bombing the Clifton home of businessman Philip Rhind – who escaped unhurt – last month, had his father Paramdeep Ghumman’s support from the gallery yesterday.
Paramdeep Ghumman had travelled to Cape Town from Australia, where he owns a wine farm. The Ghummans emigrated to Australia from India 30 years ago. Although Shumsheer Ghumman is an Australian citizen, he worked as an asset manager in London before his arrest in Cape Town on January 21.
Shumsheer Ghumman was on February 7 positively identified by two witnesses on February 7 as the man who posed as UK photo journalist Michael Kirkham in order to gain access to self-confessed criminals in Cape Town.
Yesterday it emerged that he was again identified by a third witness during a further identity parade on Wednesday night.
As a result of the allegations against him, Shumsheer Ghumman faces charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson and malicious damage to property after allegedly petrol-bombing Rhind’s home on January 14, following an alleged unsuccessful attempt to contract a hit on Rhind.
In light of the results of Wednesday’s identity parade, state prosecutor Billy Downer, who is the Western Cape Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, requested that magistrate Juhstree Steyn postpone bail application hearings to March 18 because “local South African investigations, forensic and cellphone evidence still needed to be tied up”.
Wednesday’s identity parade was supposed to have taken place within two weeks after Ghumman’s last court appearance on February 8 but had occurred one day after the time period provided the court.
In light of the delay, due to the witness being uncooperative, defence advocate Philip Higgo said they were unable to file a formal bail application yesterday.
Shumsheer Ghumman was convicted by a UK court in August last year of harassing London based public relations officer Hannah Rhind in a case filed against him by Hannah’s father Philip Rhind.
Ghumman’s appeal against his conviction was to have been heard in the UK on January 27 this year and the state alleges he tried to kill or intimidate Philip Rhind to ensure he would not be able to testify against him at the appeal hearing.
Paramdeep Ghumman, who wore a burgundy turban and blue suit looked anxious as he sat outside court before proceedings began.
Outside the court room Paramdeep Ghumman said he and his wife “are very distressed surrounding the arrest of our son.”
“It’s been traumatic,” he said.
However he said he believed his son was innocent of the charges facing him, and supported him fully.
“I’ve been here for the past 10 days and it’s a beautiful country.”
He said he hoped that the coming months would show that South Africa’s justice system was “fair” and its media “unbiased”.
Up to now, Shumsheer Ghumman has been held at the Cape Town police cells, the state has requested that he be transferred to the Goodwood prison until his next court appearance on March 18. – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News