Panayiotou witness complains of police intimidation, threats

2016-11-15 13:13
Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - A bouncer at Christopher Panayiotou's nightclub made further claims about how police intimidated and threatened him for a confession. He was testifying in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.

State witness Luthando Siyoni went into more detail about what happened after he was allegedly tortured in police custody on April 27 2015.

He said detective Willie Mayi never explained his rights to him and he signed a statement because he was scared.

"I asked him to take me to the hospital," he said, mentioning his swollen face and a cut on his eye as reasons.

"Mayi told me he was not going to do that."

State prosecutor Marius Stander noted that Siyoni could suddenly remember where he had been cut.

"I had a cut on my lower lip, and a cut on my left eye and a swollen eye," confirmed Siyoni.

Instruction from police

LIVE: State requests to discredit Siyoni as witness

He was testifying in the trial of Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde on April 21 last year. They pleaded not guilty.

Siyoni allegedly hired the alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, who died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September.

On Monday Siyoni told the court the police had told him what to say. Stander asked who had instructed him.

"I was told when I was tortured. All of them were saying the same thing: 'We know that Chris enlisted you to recruit Sizwe, why don't you say that?'"

Stander asked if they said anything else. Police apparently said they had an informer. "They told me what I told the court."

Four-hour drive

After that he left the building with two people.

"When I got into their care, he asked what had happened to my eye and I told him I was assaulted by the police."

They drove for about four hours from Uitenhage police station to Fort Beaufort police station. The charge office was closed and the lights were off. His escorts knocked on the front door and they went inside.

He was placed in a holding cell and later taken to an office to speak with a man in plain clothes.

Siyoni asked the man if he should not have an attorney present while answering questions.

"He told me not to tell him nonsense and not to waste his time or he will take me back."

Felt unsafe

He was confused when asked where the gun was. One of the men who allegedly tortured him then arrived outside and spoke to his escort.

He did not feel safe.

"Then he said he was going to take me back to those people because I spoke better to them. Then I ended up giving him the version that I gave there."

Siyoni said he realised that it was the Uitenhage incident repeating itself: "That they don't want my statement; they want their own statement that they know of."

He asked for an attorney but was told to sign the statement.

From there he was taken back to Kabega Park, the suburb where the Panayiotou family lived.

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

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