Ex-Panayiotou employee found R30 000 in bag

2016-10-20 15:27
The accused in the Panayiotou case. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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

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Port Elizabeth – An ex-employee of murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou found R30 000 in a bag meant for one of the men allegedly involved in his wife Jayde’s murder, the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth heard on Thursday.

Mawonga Ndedwa told prosecutor Marius Stander he found the bag in store room at the Panayiotou’s OK Grocer shop.

Panayiotou told him it was for Luthando Siyoni, who allegedly found the hitman who killed Jayde. Siyoni has turned State witness.

Ndedwa is the 21st State witness to testify in Jayde's murder trial, now on day seven.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe, and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing, and killing Jayde on April 21 last year. They pleaded not guilty.

Panayiotou is also facing an additional charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September. Siyoni worked as a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park.

‘Yoh! That is a lot of money’

Ndedwa worked as a merchandiser and handyman at both the OK Grocer and at the Infinity Bar.

Stander asked Ndedwa if he knew about money found at the OK Grocer.

"I was opening the store and I went to fetch tools to fix a bread machine, when I reached for the tool box, I saw a money bag," he said.

"I looked inside and said 'Yoh! That is a lot of money'."

When he called Panayiotou to ask him about it, he was told it was R30 000. Panayiotou told him to give it to Siyoni. He left the money where it was.  

The next day he went to check and the money was no longer there. He said Panayiotou told him he had taken the money. This happened about a week before Jayde was killed.

Ndedwa said only he, Panayiotou, and other store managers had access to the store room. Chanelle Coutts, Panayiotou's mistress, was one of the managers who had access.

The entire Panayiotou family listened intently as Ndedwa testified.

Destroy the phone

He told the court he often allowed Panayiotou to use his phone to make calls. He said Panayiotou paid him R1000 to destroy it.

Stander said the cellphone number stopped being used on April 23 last year, two days after Jayde's murder.

"He gave me R1 000 and said I must part ways with this phone," Ndedwa said.

Panayiotou told him the police would follow him if he had the phone. He said Panayiotou destroyed the SIM card, while he kept the handset.

Only Ndedwa and Panayiotou would use the phone and Panayiotou would often send him airtime. He said Panayiotou had only started using his phone about two weeks before Jayde's death.

Stander showed cellphone records which revealed that the first call to Siyoni took place on April 8 last year, followed by several additional calls.

Ndedwa said he only became aware that Panayiotou was calling Siyoni when Siyoni called his number looking for Panayiotou.

He said there was no reason for him to call Siyoni as they were not friends.

Putting Panayiotou 'in a hole'

Stander asked Ndedwa if he spoke to Panayiotou’s mother Fanoula about the phone. She became his boss when her son was arrested. He said when he stopped working at the OK Grocer, he went to the store and told her he wanted to give it to police. She appeared shocked and drank a glass of water.

He said he went outside to smoke.

"While I was outside, Chris' uncle came to me and asked me why I wanted to take the phone to the SAPS."

Ndedwa said the uncle, identified as Anthony, had asked him if he realised he would be putting Panayiotou "in a hole" if he gave the police the phone.

The trial continues.

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

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