Jayde death 'middleman' explains away bag of cash

2016-11-11 21:41
Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - The alleged middleman in the Jayde Panayiotou murder trial denied having anything to do with her murder.

Burly bouncer and gym owner Luthando Siyoni finally took the witness stand on Friday, after an unsuccessful attempt by the defence to challenge the admissibility of his evidence.

And instead of a tale of plotting to kill Jayde, he told a story about a search for cheap gym weights, a girlfriend who ate all his KFC and his poor financial management skills.

Siyoni told the court that he worked at Jayde's husband Christopher Panayiotou's Infinity Nightclub in Port Elizabeth and earned money from his own gym and as a personal trainer.

He and Panayiotou met at an event and he started working at Panayiotou's club, Infinity, over weekends.

Money manager

The two had become friends, Facebooking each other and Panayiotou visiting Siyoni's gym from time to time.

Panayiotou even started looking after his money for him because, by his own admission, he was bad at managing his own cash.

Asked by prosecutor Marius Stander if Panayiotou had worked out at the gym, Siyoni smiled and said no, Panayiotou was "lazy".

Money for gym weights

Siyoni said he only saw Jayde once in the year that he worked at Infinity and did not know where she and Panayiotou lived. When asked, he also said he had no knowledge of where Jayde worked.

Jayde disappeared on April 21 while waiting for a lift to Uitenhage where she was a school teacher. She was found dead the following day.

The State alleges that Panayiotou commissioned Siyoni to arrange Jayde's death and that Siyoni did so by organising triggerman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to carry out the hit.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbery and murder. Panayiotou is also facing a charge of obstructing the course of justice. They pleaded not guilty. Vumazonke died awaiting trial.

Siyoni said that on the morning Jayde disappeared, he had been at the nightclub to get some of his saved money from Panayiotou.

He told the court he owed Vumazonke R10 000 towards gym weights that Vumazonke had sourced for him at a good price.

He expected to find the money in a storeroom at the Panayiotou's business but it was not there. Siyoni said Vumazonke was harassing him on the phone for the money, so he sat and waited at Infinity.

While there he heard Panayiotou's wife Jayde had gone missing and spoke to him on the phone, saying he would work at the nightclub. He eventually left at around 22:00, heading home.

He told the court that he had bought KFC and then went to fetch his girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast.

He said they had gone to his house, which was nearby, when he received a phone call from Panayiotou.

Perjury

He said that Panayiotou had called him and asked him to help him with the search for Jayde because he knew the area better. He took Panayiotou to some ATMs and later Panayiotou dropped him off at his girlfriend's home.

He said before he left with Panayiotou, he had stopped at Breakfast's house and asked her brothers to fetch her as she could not stay at his house alone. He said he asked Breakfast's brother to tell her to bring the gym bag.

The gym bag has featured prominently in evidence led by the State. The bag contained three socks each of which had a bundle of R10 000 inside.

Breakfast has already testified and has been charged with perjury after changing her testimony.

Siyoni told the court that he had R8 000 of the R10 000 due to Vumazonke and that night Panayiotou lent him the remaining R2 000 when Panayiotou had dropped him off at Breakfast's home around midnight.

Siyoni said he was hungry but found that Breakfast had eaten all his KFC, which raised chuckles from the packed public gallery.

Siyoni said he had called Vumazonke to tell him he had the money and Vumazonke had told him he would collect the money the next day.

Siyoni then told the court that as he was leaving Breakfast's house Vumazonke had pitched up and he had given him the money. He said Vumazonke had then given him a lift to a KFC and had even paid for his drink and meal.

It was around this time that Stander asked for the court to adjourn and Judge Dayalin Chetty adjourned the court until next week Monday at 09:30.

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