Hostile Panayiotou State witness arrested

2016-10-27 17:03
Christopher Panayiotou alongside his co-accused in court. (Derrick Spies/News24)

Christopher Panayiotou alongside his co-accused in court. (Derrick Spies/News24)

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Port Elizabeth - A hostile State witness in Christopher Panayiotou’s murder trial was taken into custody to face charges, minutes after her testimony in the High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

Police officers escorted Babalwa Breakfast to the court’s holding cells at lunchtime. She cried hysterically, tried to hide her face, and clutched a roll of toilet paper.

Police spokesperson Captain Sandre Janse van Rensburg told News24 that a 23-year-old woman was taken into custody and charged with perjury and defeating the ends of justice. She would appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing, and killing his wife Jayde on April 21 2015. They pleaded not guilty. The alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, died in September.

Panayiotou, 29, was abducted outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, while waiting for her lift to Riebeeck Park High School. She was found shot dead in a veld outside KwaNobuhle township, Uitenhage, the following day.

Fair trial

READ: Disappointing Breakfast for State in Panayiotou trial

Breakfast’s boyfriend Luthando Siyoni, the alleged middleman who helped Panayiotou find Vumazonke, has turned State witness.

When the court adjourned after lunch, Terry Price, for Panayiotou, said he would argue that Breakfast’s arrest was “flagrant intimidation” by the State.

Peter Daubermann, for the remaining accused, said it sent a message that witnesses would be arrested unless they told the court what the State wanted them to say. It would affect his clients’ rights to a fair trial.

Earlier on Thursday morning, the court granted prosecutor Marius Stander’s request to declare Breakfast a hostile witness.

He argued that she lied to the court with her testimony that conflicted with two statements she gave to police.

Price said it troubled him that the State put it to Breakfast that the two versions before court were correct, yet both statements contradicted each other on material issues.

Judge Dayalin Chetty said he could argue this later.

Price earlier questioned Breakfast about the day she gave a statement to police, on April 27 last year. She was taken to the Kwanobuhle police station.

“Did that make you feel insecure, or were you frightened when you were with the police?” asked Price.

She said she was, and burst into tears. She indicated she was okay to carry on.

The court heard she had an eyesight problem and battled to read. When handed something to read in court, she held the paper close to her face.

She told Price the officers never gave her her statement to read through.

When she saw Siyoni later, she could not speak to him and saw he had a swollen eye, a cut on his lower lip, and a tear in his jeans, she said.

The trial continues.

Read more on:    jayde panayiotou  |  christopher panayiotou  |  crime

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