Co-accused in Panayiotou trial have a case to answer for

2017-06-30 14:05
The accused in the Panayiotou case. (Derrick Spies, News24)

The accused in the Panayiotou case. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth - The two co-accused in the Christopher Panayiotou murder trial, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, have got a case to answer to, Judge Dayalin Chetty said in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Friday. 

Sibeko and Nenembe are facing charges alongside Panayiotou of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde, who was abducted outside her townhouse complex in Kabega Park and later murdered in a field near KwaNobuhle on April 21, 2015.

A fourth suspect, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, the alleged hitman, died before the trial began.

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann brought an application to have the case against his clients dismissed under section 174 of the Criminal Procedures Act, arguing that the State had not proven, beyond reasonable doubt, his clients’ involvement.

State prosecutor Marius Stander on Friday responded to Daubermann's application, saying that there was in fact a strong case against both Sibeko and Nenembe that they needed to answer for.

Cellphone evidence

Stander went back through various cellphone records, GPS data and other evidence before the court.

He recapped how there had been numerous calls between Vumazonke, Sibeko and Nenembe in the lead up to the kidnapping and murder.

Stander showed how on April 14, 15 and 16, 2015 there had been numerous calls between Vumazonke and Sibeko, the majority of which had taken place in the early hours of the morning.

On the 16th, there had been no less than 31 calls made between Sibeko and Vumazonke.

Cellphone evidence showed how Vumazonke and Nenembe had been in constant contact on the day of the kidnapping and murder, and how the GPS data and cellphone data showed that Nenembe had then travelled with the vehicle the rest of the day. 

Stander pointed out that, even if the evidence of one witness, who had given evidence regarding the location of the cellphone towers, was brought into question, there was other evidence before the court, including the report compiled by Thereza Botha that also plotted the tower locations and that was not in dispute.

Stander said Daubermann’s argument that Nenembe and Sibeko could not challenge the evidence "must be a joke".

"I can think of a number of arguments to challenge this evidence, 'it's not my cellphone, it is my cellphone but I didn’t have it with me on that day, I wasn’t there on the day in question, etc.'," he said. 

'A conspiracy theory'

Stander also challenged the argument that Sibeko's phone could not be linked to him.

Sibeko's phone number had been found on Vumazonke’s phone when he was arrested in May 2015, saved under the name Zolani.

He also pointed out that cellphone records show that the most frequent number Sibeko had called in July 2016 when he was arrested was also called on 122 occasions in April 2015.

Stander said all this pointed to the fact that the phone number in question had belonged to Sibeko.

"The person who had the phone [back in 2015] had the same name, had the same contacts and called the same people?"

Daubermann countered saying Stander's evidence was a house of cards that had come tumbling down, and he had been trying to rebuild it but had failed.

"He referred to calls at ridiculous hours in the morning, what is ridiculous to one is not ridiculous to others. I know people who wake up early hours of the morning and check their phone and start respond to messages, is that ridiculous?"

Daubermann said Stander alleged that the data was a puzzle that was easy to put together, but said it was not so simple.

"He has created a conspiracy theory and has looked at facts that support that theory. That is as far as the State's case goes," he said.

Chetty then ruled that the application brought by Daubermann was dismissed.

Court then adjourned.

It was the last sitting of this session, with the case set to resume on September 26 to 29, and then provisionally from October 16 to 20, subject to Daubermann's availability. 

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

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