State maps out Panayiotou’s 'murder plan'

2016-10-11 16:33
Christopher Panayiotou in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. (Derrick Spies, News24)

Christopher Panayiotou in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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WATCH: Panayiotou and co-accused enter the dock

2016-10-11 11:00

Christopher Panayiotou, accused of orchestrating his wife's murder on 21 April 2015, arrived at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday for day one of his trial, with co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko. Watch. WATCH

Port Elizabeth – Christopher Panayiotou’s alleged plan to kill his schoolteacher wife Jayde was months in the making, the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court heard on Tuesday.

The alleged killer, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke made several trips to the complex where she lived, and to the house of Jayde’s colleague, prosecutor Marius Stander told the court.

Stander said cellphone evidence and mapping would prove that the married couple’s home had been pointed out to Vumazonke on December 2, 2014.

Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by State witness Luthando Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September. Siyoni worked as a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko earlier pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, robbing, and killing Jayde, 29.

Jayde, a teacher at Riebeek College Girls’ High School in Uitenhage, was kidnapped while waiting for her lift outside her Stellen Glen complex in Deacon Road, in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, on April 21 last year.

She was found dead in a veld in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, the next day. She had been shot three times.

'Happy Trigger'

The court heard that Vumazonke had been arrested on an unrelated matter in December 2014 and kept in custody until his release on 23 January last year. Immediately thereafter, Siyoni and Vumazonke had made contact.

Several potential hitmen were approached. Evidence would show one of these individuals had been identified as "Happy Trigger", Stander said. On March 6, 2015, Siyoni passed Jayde’s vehicle registration to Happy Trigger.

Stander said it appeared at the time that Panayiotou realised he might need to hide potential evidence. From then on, Panayiotou made contact with Siyoni via SMS, using a pre-paid sim card.

The State would prove that all calls made from that sim card were to Siyoni and Panayiotou’s girlfriend Chanelle Coutts. Coutts is a manager at the OK Grocer in Algoa Park. Panayiotou owns the store.

After Jayde’s murder, the sim card was never used again.

The State would prove that an initial plan was put in place to have Jayde killed on April 5 last year. It involved getting Jayde to come to the Infinity cocktail bar. By that stage, Siyoni was conversing with Vumazonke via Facebook messenger.

Rented vehicle

Stander said Jayde was reluctant to visit the bar on the 5th, so the plan had to be abandoned.

It was decided to hire a car to follow Jayde and her colleague Cherise Swanepoel, who travelled to school together. Two days later, Panayiotou gave Siyoni cash to hire a car. The vehicle was hired on April 9.

The State would prove Vumazonke’s cellphone and the car travelled together from that point. The vehicle was equipped with a tracking device that emitted a GPS signal every 10 seconds.

The State would show the rented vehicle travelled to Swanepoel’s home, in a secluded area, late at night on April 12.

On April 13, the rented vehicle was again at Swanepoel’s home, but they could not find her car.

The next day, Vumazonke drove to Siyoni’s home. The two of them travelled to the Stellen Glen complex, at 10:00, to identify the house. From there they travelled to her workplace, stayed for a while, and returned to Kwazakhele, where Vumazonke lived.

During this time, there were a number of calls between Siyoni and Panayiotou. One of these was made outside Jayde’s school.

Cellphone tracking

On April 15, Vumazonke, Nenembe and Sibeko allegedly circled the Stellen Glen complex that day and the following day. They raced back and forth between Jayde and Swanepoel’s residences, but could not find the women.

Stander said that on the morning of April 21, Vumazonke and Nenembe returned to Stellen Glen. From cellphone tracking, it appeared that one was dropped off outside, while the other circled the complex at least eight times. When an SMS was sent, the car sped back to the complex.

At 06:27, there was still contact between Jayde and Swanepoel. It was Swanepoel’s turn to fetch Jayde that morning, but she was nowhere to be found.

Swanepoel sent a WhatsApp message that was never delivered to Jayde’s phone. The State would lead evidence that her phone was already switched off, Stander said.

The tracker would show the car had driven onto the pavement, which was when she was kidnapped. From there the vehicle travelled to Kwanobuhle.


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

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