Port Elizabeth - A woman linked to murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou has faced so much harassment from the media, public, “and other entities” that she had a nervous breakdown, her legal representative told Netwerk24.
Danie Gouws, a Port Elizabeth lawyer, confirmed at the weekend that he had been assigned to look after the interests of Chanelle Coutts, the personnel manager of the OK Grocer in Algoa Park. Panayiotou owns the grocery store.
Panayiotou has been charged with murdering and conspiring to murder his wife Jayde.
Gouws said he will also be looking at cases of civil defamation for Coutts, whose name was mentioned in court last Thursday during Panayiotou’s bail application.
The accused’s lawyer, Advocate Terry Price, said it was “good that Coutts appointed a lawyer because the State is bullying her because they don’t have witnesses”.
Gouws confirmed that police questioned Coutts shortly after Panayiotou was arrested.
“I can’t give any more detail about the interrogation but it caused great stress for my client,” said Gouws.
Coutts on sick leave
He said Coutts will not be in court on Wednesday, when Panayiotou returns to the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court for his bail application.
“My client is currently ill and on sick leave. I will represent her in court on Wednesday and act if necessary,” said Gouws.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Velekhaya Mgobhozi, on behalf of prosecutor Marius Stander, said they had no comment on Coutts’s appointment of a lawyer, or whether she will be called for the bail application this week.
Price said Panayiotou has a 90% chance of getting bail.
“The magistrate (Abigail Beaton) has no reason to refuse bail. It’s just Stander (for the State) who thinks there’s a reason.”
Panayiotou’s wife Jayde 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. She had been shot dead.
Panayiotou, 28, Thando Siyoli, 31 and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, were arrested in the days following Jayde's disappearance.