Panayiotou witness risks perjury charge

2016-11-16 21:13
Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth – A State witness in Christopher Panayiotou’s murder trial risks facing a charge of perjury, the High Court in Port Elizabeth heard on Wednesday.

Luthando Siyoni’s lawyer, Zolile Ngqeza, told the court that as prosecutor Marius Stander had applied to discredit his client, he risked facing a charge of perjury.

He asked that Siyoni be warned that any evidence he led could be used against him.

Panayiotou's wife Jayde was kidnapped and murdered on April 21 last year. Her husband Christopher, Sinethemba Nenembe, and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbery, and murder. They pleaded not guilty.

Siyoni, the alleged middleman who found the gunman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, turned State witness. Vumazonke died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September. Siyoni worked as a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park.

Stander continued to read Siyoni’s statement that he had made to investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel. He went through the statement line by line, asking Siyoni to confirm if he said it or not.

“I am not going to answer that question,” he replied.

The court heard how Siyoni, in his statement, described how Panayiotou had asked him if he knew anyone who could kill someone.

Siyoni told Swanepoel that he had approached several people before finding Vumazonke. Vumazonke had expressed an interest and they exchanged numbers.

Square one

In his statement, Siyoni said that after meeting Panayiotou at the Infinity, Vumazonke disappeared. 

“I was back to square one now. I started looking for other persons again. At this time Chris was almost panicking,” reads the statement. 

He contacted Vumazonke again and told him the price for the hit was R40 000. He explained how he used some of his own and Panayiotou’s money, totalling R6 000, to help Vumazonke rent a car.

The car was allegedly used to kidnap Jayde outside her townhouse complex on the morning of her murder, while she waited for her lift to work. 

In his statement, Siyoni described how a plan was hatched to bring Jayde to Infinity for Sunday dinner. He would then point her car out to Vumazonke, so they could follow and kill her.

Siyoni continued to refuse to answer Stander’s questions about this. 

When this plan failed, they devised another, the statement reads. This would involve Panayiotou showing Siyoni where Jayde’s colleague Cherise Swanepoel lived. The two women took turns giving each other lifts to Riebeek College Girls High School, where both worked as teachers.

Rain ruined plan

According to the statement, Vumazonke followed the women to school. This plan failed because it was raining, Siyoni said in his statement.

Vumazonke then asked Panayiotou if he could give them access to his house so they could kill Jayde there. He refused because his neighbour was a police officer. 

On April 21, Siyoni got a call from Vumazonke to say the hit had been carried out.

Siyoni explained in his statement that later that night Panayiotou came to his house and gave him a plastic bag filled with money. He gave it to his girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast, and Panayiotou left to pretend to look for Jayde in Njoli. 

Vumazonke collected the money at Breakfast’s house and the two of them then went to KFC.

His statement concluded with him being arrested. 

“It became clear to me that I was in deep trouble and decided to co-operate with the police.”

The trial continues.

Read more on:    jayde pana­yiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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