Frustrated magistrate postpones Panayiotou case

Port Elizabeth - The matter against Christopher Panayiotou, accused of master-minding the murder of his wife Jayde, was postponed on Wednesday following confusion about who would be representing him in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court.

Magistrate Abigail Beaton adjourned the matter to Thursday after advocate Theuns Roelofse told the court that advocate Terry Price would resume his duties as Panayiotou's lawyer.

He was apparently unable to make it to court on Wednesday morning as he was travelling to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg.

Earlier State advocate Marius Stander told the court that Price would not be representing Panayiotou and would be replaced by Roelofse.

Beaton said she was not happy with the substitution.

She said Price had not informed the court that he would not be present and she was concerned about whether Panayiotou would be fairly represented.

Panayiotou, 28, Thando Siyoli, 31 and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, were arrested in the days following Jayde's disappearance.

Charges

She was last seen waiting outside their home in Kabega Park for her lift to Riebeeck Park High School on Tuesday, April 21. She was found dead outside Kwanobuhle township in Uitenhage the following day.

Panayiotou is facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder; robbery with aggravated circumstances; kidnapping; murder; and defeating the ends of justice.

When asked whether he would be representing Panayiotou for the duration of the case, Roelofse asked for a 15 minute adjournment to discuss the matter with his legal team and Panayiotou.

After the adjournment Roelofse returned to tell the court that Panayiotou understood that he could be prejudiced.

He said the defence team had been in contact with Price, who was in Johannesburg at the time, and asked that the matter stand down till 14:00.

Beaton addressed Panayiotou again who told her that he was not comfortable to proceed with Roelofse as his representative and would like to get feedback from Price.

Stander said he had concerns about time constraints.

Beaton then accused Roelofse of speaking with a forked tongue because he was asking for a postponement until 14:00, however nothing would have changed by then.

She made it clear that the situation was unethical and bemoaned the fact that no one had apologised for Price's absence.

Beaton gave Roelofse an hour to find out from Price if he would be able to proceed with the matter.

When court reconvened at noon, Roelofse told the court that he had received instructions from Panayiotou to represent him on two of the five affidavits filed by the State that were submitted on time.
Panayiotou confirmed this.

Beaton told Roelofse she felt that he could not be given proper instructions in the short space of time allocated to him.

Roelofse then told the court Price would resume his duties in the matter on Thursday.

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