Quality of footage of man using Jayde's bank card too poor, court hears

2016-10-19 17:25
An image captured by an ATM security camera of one of the men suspected of being involved in the killing of 28-year-old teacher Jayde Panayiotou. (Eastern Cape police)

An image captured by an ATM security camera of one of the men suspected of being involved in the killing of 28-year-old teacher Jayde Panayiotou. (Eastern Cape police)

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Port Elizabeth - A photo widely circulated in the media of a potential suspect in the abduction and murder of Jayde Panayiotou had absolutely nothing to do with the case. 

This came out following testimony of former police officer and current bank security expert, Streicher Botha, who had accessed ATMs and their footage in the KwaNobuhle area where a transaction was done on Jayde's bank card shortly after her disappearance in front of her Stellen Glen home in Kabega Park. 

Botha testified that when the correct footage was eventually recovered the following day, it was of such poor quality that it was of no use. 

Botha, a former murder and robbery investigator, told the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth he had gone into the private sector as an investigator with Protea Coin and acted as a link between the SAPS and Nedbank.

Jayde was a Nedbank client, and when she disappeared on April 21, 2015 a police officer friend of her husband's Christopher had called Botha for help. He asked Botha to help find out who had tried to use her bank card at an ATM in KwaNobuhle.

"I asked him if he was sure of the facts. I asked an officer to go to her school and see if she was there," he said. In the meantime, he went to KwaNobuhle.

Footage checked

When he got to the ATM where the alleged attempted withdrawal took place there was already a large of number of police officers present.

They were focusing on a transaction at 07:25, when the attempted withdrawal was supposed to have taken place.

The normal procedure is to check the footage five minutes before and five minutes after the attempt.

"I did take a look, but there was no transactions that took place at that time. I said we should check if there were not perhaps transactions at the other nearby ATMs."

They went to an ATM about 1km away at a place known as "Big Daddy's" and detected a transaction at 07:25. The footage showed a person outside the ATM.

He took a still photo of the person who had withdrawn money from the ATM and they locked the ATM.

20-minute difference

"I told them there was a transaction that took place and showed them the photo of the person who had made the transaction."

Botha said about 10 police officers asked him for the photo and he sent it to them via WhatsApp. This is the photo that was later circulated to the media. 

Botha went to the third ATM in the area, at a Shell garage, and on inspection found there had been no transactions at that specific time.

Botha said he had gone back to the first ATM the following day with a colleague. The colleague had withdrawn money and there was a difference of 20 minutes on the slip and the recording machine.

He went back to the footage of April 21 and checked at 07:05, a 20-minute difference from the initial time.

"I saw at that point there was indeed movement on the ATM."

"I could see there was someone in front of the ATM, but you could not make out what he was wearing, what colour, and no clear view of the person's face."

The poor image could be attributed to the shadow cast by the sun rising, the poor quality of the camera or a dirty lens.

He conceded then that the photograph sent to the police officers from the second ATM was not the correct one and was from the wrong ATM.

Alarms

He added that the indistinguishable photo was never downloaded or sent to the police.
He explained that this all happened on April 22 and that at that stage they did not know the circumstances.

"The photo was so unclear that it would not be able to be used as evidence in court."

The trial continued with the short questioning of John Best, who is on the mayoral committee for safety and security for Nelson Mandela Bay.

He is also the operational centre manager for Atlas Security, who had the Panayiotou family businesses the OK Grocer and the Infinity nightclub as clients.

Best told the court that Christopher's codes had been used for entry and exit to the club and to the grocer late that evening.

Christopher's code was used on 21 April at 22:16 to deactivate the alarm and at 23:25 to switch it back on.

At the OK Grocer the alarm was switched off at 21:54 and activated at 23:30.

The trial continues.                        

Read more on:    jayde panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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