Missing phone, keyless-handcuffs during 'Jayde Fever' arrest

2016-10-28 21:06
Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

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Port Elizabeth - Dramatic details of the behind the scenes work that it took to bring into the suspected triggerman in Jayde Panayiotou’s death were revealed in her husband Christopher's conspiracy to murder trial on Friday.

In the witness stand was Brigadier Gary McLaren, head of police detective services in the Eastern Cape, who formed a task team to investigate Jayde’s death.

Jayde disappeared from outside her and Christopher’s home on April 21 and was found dead in a veld in KwaNobuhle, near Uitenhage on April 22.

McLaren testified that on April 25 he received information relating to her death and drove from his home in East London for a meeting with the informant.

He and Colonel ‘’Grumpy’’ Rowen followed up on the information and the next day, they decided to create the task team.

The arrest

Fast forward to May 3 when Sizwezakhe Vumazonke was arrested.

McLaren said there were four members in the tracing team present for the Vumazonke swoop, and himself and a Colonel Middleton standing a distance away.

The tracers left to go and check out their information on Vumazonke’s whereabouts, and returned asking if they could borrow McLaren’s vehicle.

At about 01:15 they returned, with Vumazonke in McLaren’s vehicle, followed by a Polo with the girlfriend of a friend of Vumazonke’s inside it. She was later released.

McLaren said he immediately noticed there was an injury to Vumazonke’s right eye and Sergeant Manakaza immediately apologised, saying this happened when they pulled him out of his car by his belt. He had apparently banged his head on a piece of metal at the bottom of the door.

Manakaza said a shot was also fired during the arrest.

Missing keys

McLaren said a crowd was gathering so they took Vumazonke to Kabega Park police cells and there the alleged middleman and State witness, Luthando Siyoni, identified him.

At the cells, their first stop, nobody could find a key to unlock Vumazonke’s handcuffs because an old pair that had been lying around McLaren’s car had been used.

"There were members from the sections and the dog unit that came there. And every person who came, I asked if they could test them against his handcuffs.                     

"The first time we could get the handcuffs off him was when we got to Despatch,’’ he said.                        

Meanwhile, Vumazonke had said he was not guilty.

Finding the phone

At one point Vumazonke asked if they had found a phone in his car, and this set off a massive hunt for the phone with police ringing his number then searching the two vehicles involved in the arrest from top to bottom to find it, even lying under the cars to listen for the ring.

The court has already heard that he gave a phone to a friend who ran away when the police arrived.

Then McLaren decided that Vumazonke would be held at Despatch holding cells while officers tried to find a "Zenzi" from Zwide that Vumazonke had told them about.

The police could not find "Zenzi", even though one of their top officers who had a thorough knowledge of the criminal underworld was on it.

There were no holding cells at Despatch, so McLaren made a call to take Vumazonke to out of town holding cells because there was "Jayde Fever" in Port Elizabeth.

"It was to keep the arrest of the accused confined to the arresting team," he said.

"If I can elaborate further, if the [SA Police Service] dog unit has a flat wheel outside their office, it is immediately rushed to the media.  

"You cannot keep anything under wraps in the Port Elizabeth area or keep it out of the media,’’ said McLaren.

He added that there was no sinister motive when he asked that Vumazonke be transferred to Fort Beaufort.

The trial will continue on Monday, with McLaren back on the stand.

Read more on:    jayde pana­yiotou  |  christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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