Police deny assaulting Panayiotou murder accused

2016-10-18 19:12
Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

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Cape Town - A police constable denied that alleged Jayde Panayiotou hitman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke was beaten after his arrest, the High Court in Port Elizabeth heard on Tuesday.

Constable Thapelo Mabija testified that, as far as he knew, Vumazonke had banged his eye on a car door while a fellow policeman was trying to prevent him from running away, when they arrested him in the early hours of May 3, 2015.

Vumazonke died on September 7 after falling ill in his holding cells, and later slipping into a coma.

Mabija was testifying in the trial of Jayde’s husband Christopher, and his co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko. They are facing charges of conspiring, as well as kidnapping, robbing, and killing Jayde on April 21 last year. They pleaded not guilty.

The Riebeek College Girls' High School teacher was kidnapped while waiting for her lift to work outside the Stellen Glen complex in Deacon Road, Kabega Park, on April 21 last year. Her body was found in a veld in KwaNobuhle the next day. She was shot twice in the back and once in the head.

Banged head on car door

Mabija testified that he was in the police’s tracing team. After they got a tip-off that Vumazonke was in KwaNobuhle, they identified him during a stakeout of a party, with the help of photographs in their possession. They did not approach him because there were too many drunk people there.

"We were unable to make an arrest on him at the time as there were a number of people and we had been informed that he is a dangerous individual, so we wanted to avoid any gunfire,’’ said Mabija.

Instead, he and three colleagues caught him outside a shebeen he and some friends drove to after the party.

During cross-examination by Terry Price, for Panayiotou, Mabija said when they surrounded Vumazonke’s car, one person got out and ran away. Vumazonke tried to get out of the car and it was in the process of grabbing him that he banged his head on the door.

'An awful amount of lies here'

Mabija said his job had only been to find Vumazonke. He had nothing to do with the questioning, or whether he was taken to Uitenhage or Despatch, as the defence alleged. He had nothing to do with booking Vumazonke in at KwaNobuhle, and could not explain why there was a lengthy lapse between his own statement at 02:00, and when Vumazonke was booked in at 06:15.

"I am going to show this court that you are telling an awful amount of lies here," said Price.

"Because Vumazonke was only booked into the cells at 06:15 and that you were part of the group of police that beat him up."                        

"That is not true," said Mabija.

Price said it was "convenient" that his police pocket book containing his notes from the arrest, was missing.

Prosecutor Marius Stander pointed out that it was not Mabija who had misplaced it. It had been handed to police.

The trial continues.


Read more on:    jayde panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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