Friend remembers murdered teacher’s kindness, feistiness

Port Elizabeth - Murdered Port Elizabeth teacher Jayde Panayiotou would not have accepted her fate without first putting up a fight, her friend said on Thursday.

Although she was petite, Panayiotou was feisty, Cherise Swanepoel said.

“Jayde had spunk; she was a real go getter. Anything she put her mind to, would get done,” said Swanepoel.

Panayiotou was 29, not 28, as has been widely reported since her disappearance from
outside her home at the Stellen Glen residential complex in Deacon Road, Kabega
Park, on Tuesday morning.

Her body was found in an isolated area near KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, on Wednesday morning.

Kindness, not weakness

She would have turned 30 on November 22.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness, I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.”

These words are part of a collage of verses the much loved teacher compiled and posted on Facebook.

In the centre of the collage is an illustration of two owls - one red, one light blue - sitting back to back, their wings forming the shape of a heart. Panayiotou loved owls.

“If we ever drove past an animal on the side of the road, Jayde would always ask if we could stop and rescue it, if she could keep it and take it home,” said Swanepoel.

Swanepoel grew up with Panayiotou, studied with her and taught at Riebeek College Girl’s High School with her. The two women lift clubbed together.

Swanepoel was going to pick Panayiotou up on Tuesday morning, and initiated the manhunt when
she did not find her friend waiting for her.

“She had animal protection services on speed dial and would call them while we were driving, saying there’s a guy on such and such a corner selling puppies. She had a real heart for animals,” Swanepoel said.

Happily married

Panayiotou owned two Yorkshire Terriers, which often appear with her in photographs. She is often seen cuddling monkeys, which her younger sister Toni rehabilitates.

Jayde is survived by her parents, Michelle and Derick Inngs, sister Toni, and husband Christopher. They got married on June 22 2013, with 300 guests in attendance. The reception was at the Hellenic Hall in Port Elizabeth.

“She used to joke with me before the wedding, saying she didn’t know who was going
to pay to feed all the guests,” said Swanepoel, who was also a bridesmaid.

The couple had been together since university.

“She adored Chris. In fact, they were besotted with each other. She would often tell me how, if anything was to happen to him, she wouldn’t know what to do,” Swanepoel said.

She was well organised, prepared for everything, honest and true to herself. She never conformed and was okay with not following the crowd. She would stand up for her own beliefs and would not waiver from her values, Swanepoel said.

Keen reader

Panayiotou never smoked and seldom drank, lived a healthy lifestyle and looked after herself.

“She also had a keen sense of humour. My WhatsApp is full of funny pictures and eGreeting Cards that she would send to me,” Swanepoel said.

She loved to read. A recent picture she posted on Instagram shows a pile of books she had just bought that she was hoping to tackle.

Panayiotou went to school in Uitenhage, having first attended College Hill Preparatory School, before going to Riebeek College Girl’s High School from Grade 4 to Matric.

She went to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where she studied a Bachelor of Arts with Psychology and English majors, before completing her teaching qualification through Unisa.

She taught at Muir College for a year, before moving to Riebeek College at the
beginning of 2008, where she was a Grade 7 homeroom teacher, as well as having
taught grades 4 to 7 Life Orientation.

She was one of the school’s councillors, and her pupils loved her.

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