Defence in Panayiotou trial objects to Facebook link

2016-11-08 17:58
Sinethemba Nenembe (Facebook)

Sinethemba Nenembe (Facebook)

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Port Elizabeth - The latest evidence linking an accused in the Jayde Panayiotou trial to a cellphone number has been labelled inadmissible by his defence attorney, who has accused the State of a trial by Facebook.

The accused, Sinethemba Nenembe, is alleged to have been part of a conspiracy to murder Jayde in April last year.

Her husband Christopher Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating her murder.

It is the State's case that Panayiotou approached a bouncer, Luthando Siyoni, at his night club and asked him to hire a hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, to murder her.

Vumazonke died in hospital in September while Siyoni has become a section 204 witness for the State.

Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko have since been linked to the crime. Panayiotou, Nenembe and Sibeko are facing charges of abducting, robbing and murdering Jayde. They have pleaded not guilty.

Profile not accessed

During day 19 of the trial on Tuesday detective Warrant Officer Shane Kuhn of the Directorate Priority Crimes Investigations testified how he had been asked to trace a number that had been linked to the investigation.

Kuhn told the court that he had immediately entered it into the social media platform Facebook and had been given a search result with Nenembe's profile picture and name.

But Nenembe's attorney Peter Daubermann immediately objected to this, saying the evidence was hearsay and had no probative value.

Daubermann argued that Kuhn had not accessed his client's profile directly and that there was no way to determine how the cellphone number had been associated with his client.

State prosecutor Marius Stander countered that Daubermann was entitled to cross-examine his witness about the validity of the evidence.

He also argued that the State's case linking Nenembe to the phone did not hinge on the Facebook evidence alone.

'Zero plus zero is still zero'

But Daubermann hit back.

"This evidence is nonsense My Lord. It should not be admitted, it carries no probative value," he said.

Daubermann said Stander had already admitted that testimony from detective Stephanus de Bruin last week, in which De Bruin testified that Nenembe's father had given him the cellphone number for Nenembe, was hearsay evidence and had no value.

"If my maths doesn't fail me, My Lord, zero plus zero is still zero," Daubermann said.

But Judge Dayalin Chetty overruled Daubermann's objection, saying he would give full reasons in his judgment.

On Monday Kuhn also told the court that he had been contacted by an informant on April 22, 2015, the same day police recovered Jayde's body.

Evidence hearsay

He said this informant told him he had information relating to the case.

Kuhn had not been part of the investigation or the task team investigating Jayde's murder.

He said the informant had mentioned that Panayiotou was believed to have been involved.

Terry Price, on behalf of Panayiotou, immediately objected on the grounds that the information was hearsay evidence.

Stander countered this, saying that Panayiotou's plea explanation gave the impression that Panayiotou was not a suspect up until the day of his arrest, and that the evidence being led was to show that this was not the case.

Chetty asked Price if he had principal grounds on which to base his objection to his client's name being given, to which Price asked: "How can I test it?"

Kuhn said he had then approached the investigating officer, who at the time had been detective Constable Aldre Koen, and they had again met with the informant later that afternoon.

DNA samples recovered

The informant, according to Kuhn, had mentioned a body builder who had worked with Panayiotou, although he did not name him, and had taken them to a home in Zwide.

Stander called up a photo of Siyoni's home, to which Price again objected, saying it was unfair as there were no other houses to compare to, and the house had a giant arrow pointing to it.

But Stander countered that it either was or was not the house that had been pointed out. Kuhn identified the house as being the one he was taken to.

Tuesday's court proceedings started off with evidence being led by Warrant Officer Hannique Human from the biology unit attached to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Cape Town.

She read into record the numerous samples that had been sent for further analysis, including Jayde's clothing, touch DNA kits, probable blood samples and more.

Human testified how samples from the boot of the Toyota Etios believed to have been used in Jayde's abduction and from the wallet belonging to Vumazonke both tested positive for the presence of possible blood.

Lieutenant Colonel Sharlene Otto, also from the biology unit, testified that DNA samples were recovered from the swabs taken from the boot and the wallet, which was sufficient to confirm that it was blood, but that the sample size was too small to confirm if it was human or animal blood.

The trial will resume on Wednesday at 09:30.

Read more on:    facebook  |  christopher panayiotou  |  jayde panayiotou  |  crime

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