AS IT HAPPENED: Panayiotou, mistress didn't want 'conversations to be public', had phones wiped

2017-10-16 13:00

While testifying in the stand in defence of Christopher Panayiotou in his ongoing trial, his mistress Chanelle Coutts admitted to having data on their phones wiped because they did not want the content of their conversations 'to be public'.

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Last Updated at 07:30
16 Oct 14:26

TP says he has one witness that he wants to consult with, but the witness is off sick.

TP: Asks that the matter stands down to tomorrow.

TP says he doubts he will call the witness, but it is necessary to consult with him first.

MS says he wants to call Gounden, as he wants to put a document to him. He says he does not want to cross-examine him.

TP: Says he has no problem with that, but will not limit himself to the document and may put further questions to him.

TP says Gounden is apparently being transferred to Mthatha.

Chetty stands the matter down to tomorrow 9.30am.


16 Oct 14:24

TP: and was she paid from OK Grocer?

CC: From Chris' personal account.

TP: That's all my lord.

[CC is excused]


16 Oct 14:23

TP: Do you know if you were the only person paid a bonus?

CC: No, there was one other person.

TP: Do you know who?

CC: Yes.

TP: And do you know how much was paid?

CC: Yes, she was paid R20k


16 Oct 14:21
MS: No further questions.

16 Oct 14:21

MS: When we go to the phonecall to Trompie, I want to put you in the picture.

MS: When Siyoni's phone was discovered, contacts were found on the phone, and one of the contacts was named Trompie.

MS: In his statement, Siyoni said that Trompie was one of the original hitmen approached.

MS: When this no was analysed, it was found that 17 numbers were found made from your phone.

MS: Do you have any recollection of these calls?

CC: No I do not.

MS: And if I give you this no: would you know the no?

CC: No I would not.


16 Oct 14:17

MS: And when he got married?

CC: I was upset.

MS: And when he told you he bought the house?

CC: I was upset but I did not show this to accused no. 1.


16 Oct 14:16

MS: When the deceased in this matter, did you stay over?

CC: Yes

MS: You were asked, and when you were asked, you said that CP would play open cards with you, he informed you when he got engaged, married and bought a house.

CC: Yes

MS: And what was your reaction that he had got engaged?

CC: I did not show much emotion to him.


16 Oct 14:15

- COURT RESUMES - 

MS: Your relationship with accused 1

CC: Yes we were in a relationship.


16 Oct 12:36

 - COURT IS ADJOURNED - 

Court will resume at 14:15.


16 Oct 12:35

MS: You spoke to...about the wiping of the phones 

CC: As I have explained, I was at Kapp's house, it was her birthday. 

CC: Kapp told me that a friend of hers, who was a teacher, had told her there were rumours that Chris was having an affair 

CC: No names were mentioned, but I decided to delete the photos of Chris on my phone and asked her to do the same 

MS: And after that, you had the phone wiped? 

CC: After I went to the OK Grocer, where I met with Donovan Vosloo, who then deleted the content on the phone. 

CC: When I got the phone back, it just had my contacts on it 

MS: And CP's phone a similar situation? 

CC: Yes 

MS: And why? 

CC: We had already agreed that we would be honest about the affair, but did not want the content of our conversations to be public. 

MS: So you wanted to hide that from the police? 

CC: The police and our families 

[MS asks for an adjournment to 14:00] 

[MS says he needs to digitise certain items before he continues] 


16 Oct 12:30

MS: And that this was in fact for a sponsorship to the SAPS golf team? 

CC: That is correct 

MS: And that a certificate of appreciation was given? 

CC: I am not aware of that 

MS: Were you aware of a - for lack of a better word - business entity in Grahamstown? 

CC: I was aware 

MS: Do you know what it was? 

CC: My understanding was it was an internet cafe 

MS: And do you know what the financial situation was? 

CC: No 


16 Oct 12:27

MS: I put it to you that that money was not for your 10 years service, as it would then reflect in the books of either OK or Infinity 

CC: That is Mr Stander's opinion, my lord 

MS: Do you know the drug called Mandy? 

CC: No 

MS: It is a drug very similar to cocaine 

MS: Do you know that you were possibly asked that you used Mandy and not cocaine? 

CC: It is possible 

TP: What statement is this that Mr Stander refers to? 

[MS refers to the affidavit] 

MS: Perhaps I should rephrase... 

MS: Were you aware of the purpose of the items being collected by Mr Eksteen 

CC: Yes 


16 Oct 12:24

MS: I have a few questions and then I am going to ask if we can stand down until after 2 

MS: Do I understand you correctly that you have insights into the financial affairs of OK Grocer? 

CC: Yes 

MS: Does the R17k given as a bonus from CP for your 10 year service reflect in the financial records of the OK Grocer 

CC: No, it doesn't 

MS: Why not? 

CC: As it was stated, I also worked at Infinity 

MS: Okay, so does the R17k reflect in the books for Infinity? 

CC: No 

MS: Why not? 

CC: It would reflect in his account, he was the owner of Infinity


16 Oct 12:21

TP: Do you have any personal knowledge about how this terrible tragedy came about? 

CC: No, I don't 

TP: Were they satisfied? 

CC: No, they kept pressurising me, saying they're sure I know more than I was letting on 

TP: Thank you [rests] 

PD: No questions  


16 Oct 12:19

TP: Ms Coutts, do you know anything about an allegation that you and Clarishka were not to speak to each other? 

CC: I got the impression she was trying to avoid me 

CC: She told me she had also been questioned by the police and been asked not to speak to me 

TP: And she mentioned about the phones being cleared on the 26th of April 

CC: That is correct 

TP: And what did the police say? 

CC: They told me I must stop covering for Chris, because the defence will turn everything on me 

TP: Who was with you? 

CC: My lawyer, Danie Gouws 

TP: And how did you feel? 

CC: I was shocked, as I knew this was not true 

TP: You know what a Section 205 is? 

CC: Yes 

TP: And they were at one stage going to serve a Section 205? 

CC: Yes, they wanted the recordings I had made of our consultations 

TP: There is an allegation on the 22nd of November, that Jayde almost caught you and Chris in bed together 

CC: That never happened 

CC: The 22nd of November was Fanula's birthday, they had a gathering at his house. I was not there. 


16 Oct 12:12

 - COURT IS BACK IN SESSION - 


16 Oct 12:08

Coutts leaves court during recess. (Derrick Spies/News24) 


16 Oct 12:07

TP: Do you know a person named Leon Eksteen? 

CC: Yes, he was a friend of the Panayiotous 

TP: Did he ever take goods from the store? 

CC: No, he would come and ask for donations 

TP: And did he take goods? 

CC: Yes, grocery items 

TP: And did he pay for them? 

CC: No 

[TP asks for a short adjournment]

  - COURT IS IN RECESS - 


16 Oct 12:04

TP: And Chris told you about him getting engaged and getting married? 

CC: Yes 

TP: It was put on record by Mr Stander, that you and Clarishka had made statements that Chris had Jayde murdered because she is too expensive, did you ever say anything like that? 

CC: No 

TP: Any idea where they would have got such a story? 

CC: No idea 


16 Oct 12:03

TP: Let us look at her statement further 

TP: She said you were in George in 2014 

CC: No it was in 2013, in 2014 we celebrated at Infinity 

TP: She also told the court about how you got gifts from Chris, a GHD, a bag, etc.

CC: Yes 

TP: Did she also get gifts from him? 

CC: Yes 

TP: And any other women get gifts from him? 

CC: His mother, his sisters 


16 Oct 12:01

TP: Let us briefly go to your sister Wendy's wedding 

TP: Clarishka Kapp told this court that you and Chris went together to the wedding 

CC: I have no idea where she got that 

TP: So how did he get to the wedding? 

CC: He drove my sister to the wedding 

TP: Did you sit with him? 

CC: Yes 

TP: Who all was at the table? 

CC: Members of her family 


16 Oct 11:59

TP: How close was Mawonga and Siyoni? 

CC: I would say they were close friends, they would sit and have a drink 

TP: Mawonga's claim is he barely saw Siyoni 

CC: No they saw each other almost every weekend 

TP: There is mention of a man named Trompie, do you know such a person? 

CC: No 

TP: Teresa Botha says that there were a number of calls between you and Trompie 

CC: No 

TP: Did they speak to you about a person named Lendell? 

CC: I was asked by Swanepoel, that he was a former employee who used to work at Infinity 


16 Oct 11:56

TP: Was the conversation ever had between you and Mr Stander about testifying for the defence? 

CC: I was told that I would testify for the State, but that if he did not call me, I would not testify for the defence 

TP: There have been stories floating around here that Chris forced Jayde to buy the house 

CC: No, it was my understanding that Chris wanted to buy the house 

TP: Did Chris ever say he was unhappy because Jayde was expensive? 

CC: No, never 


16 Oct 11:54

TP: From the start, we were told that you were going to be a State witness 

CC: Yes, I was told that I would have to be prepared to be called, but I was never called 

TP: Before Mr Stander closed his case, did he inform you? 

CC: No, only after the case was closed 

TP: Did Mr Griebenouw consult with you? 

CC: No 

TP: Did I? 

CC: No, only after 

TP: Did myself or Mr Griebenouw ever get your statement, prior to the other day? 

CC: No 


16 Oct 11:51

TP: And the house and a car? 

CC: I never received a house 

TP: And the car? 

CC: I traded in my car and got a R40k deposit for it 

CC: Chris paid a further R17k towards it, which was given for the work I had done 

TP: And he gave you the money? 

CC: No he paid it directly to Tavcor  

TP: And you consulted with the State? 

CC: Yes 

TP: And how were you treated? 

CC: ... I was treated very badly. They used foul language. They made sexual comments, nasty comments. 

TP: I am not going to press the matter, I believe you have recordings but that you are not prepared to comment on it. 

CC: I am not comfortable 

TP: And did you speak about the way you were being represented in the media? 

CC: Yes, I did complain 


16 Oct 11:47

TP: And you made this available to the police? 

CC: My attorney did 

TP: After they questioned you? 

CC: Mr Swanepoel told me to go back upstairs and tell my mom that I was with friends 

CC: I told my mom it had been the police and after consulting with my family we decided to appoint a lawyer 

TP: And then on the 4th of May, in the papers? 

CC: Yes there was an article saying I was pregnant and that Chris had bought me a house and a car 

TP: And what did you do? 

CC: I went to the police to ask about what I could do to have the story corrected 

TP: And what did they say? 

CC: They said I could open a civil suit and gave me the number of an attorney that I could contact. They said they did not speak to the media. 


16 Oct 11:44

TP: Why did you appoint an attorney? 

CC: There was a lot of pressure from the police and the media 

CC: The police kept asking me the same questions over and over 

TP: You mentioned the 3rd of May 

CC: Yes, I received a missed call from Swanepoel, I did not return it 

CC: I then got a call from the office saying Mr Swanepoel was looking for me 

CC: I called him, he said that they were downstairs waiting for me 

CC: I was asked to get into the car with them. They asked me if I was pregnant. 

CC: They then asked me if I did cocaine, I told them no. 

CC: They then asked me if Chris did cocaine, I told them I would have noticed 

TP: What did you do to prove you were not pregnant? 

CC: I went to a doctor and had a blood test 

TP: And this established that you were not pregnant? 

CC: Yes 


16 Oct 11:40

TP: And the one you saw from Mr Gouws, had three pages? 

CC: Yes 

TP: And you then received another version, being typed? 

CC: Yes, I went through it with my attorney and there were a few items in the statement that we were not happy with 

TP: Such as 

CC: That the OK Grocer was in financial trouble 

TP: Was it? 

CC: No 

TP: And the other? 

CC: That I had been chatting to another person on Facebook and Chris had been upset about it and had had a go at me 

TP: And they corrected it? 

CC: Yes, the same day 

TP: And then you signed it? 

CC: Yes 


16 Oct 11:37

TP: Did you make a statement? 

CC: Yes, they did 

TP: You know of the statement I'm talking about, the handwritten one by Captain Swanepoel 

CC: Yes 

TP: When did you become aware of the statement? 

CC: After I appointed my attorney, Danie Gouws 

TP: Did you sign the pages? 

CC: Yes 

TP: How many pages were there? 

CC: It was two pages  

TP: And you signed on the bottom of each page? 

CC: Yes 


16 Oct 11:35

TP: Did you give a statement? 

CC: Yes 

[CC explains how the police had asked her to make a statement, and how she had offered to meet them, but that the police had told her no she had to go with them] 

TP: Where did they take you? 

CC: To a house in Shirley Street 

TP: How long did they keep you? 

CC: About 3 hours 

TP: How did you feel about the questions they were asking? 

CC: I was confused, scared and felt intimidated by them 

TP: What time did they let you go? 

CC: I was dropped off back at work at around 19:50 


16 Oct 11:31

TP: And if it was open like that, how many people would have had access to that? 

CC: No, that storeroom is open and many people had access to it 

TP: Did he mention finding money with you 

CC: No 

TP: Did he mention to Christopher Panayiotou (CP)? 

CC: I wouldn't know 

TP: Well, would CP have told you about it? 

CC: I'm sure he would have 


16 Oct 11:29

TP: You are familiar with Mawonga? 

CC: Yes TP: And you know of the case against him? 

CC: I led the disciplinary against him 

TP: Mawonga said he was deliberately trying to get fired 

CC: On the video you can see that he was trying to hide what he was doing 

TP: Were you in the office during the disciplinary? 

CC: Yes 

CC: He was in the office, I informed him about the outcome of the case, he signed it with a sarcastic grin on his face 

TP: He also told the court about finding a large sum of money in one of the storerooms 

CC: I don't believe that 


16 Oct 11:27

TP: And is there any way that large sums of money, such as R30k to 40k? 

CC: No 

TP: DNA was taken from you? 

CC: Yes 

TP: Why? 

CC: They took from me to eliminate me in terms of [touching] DNA on money 

CC: They had found four female DNA samples and they wanted to eliminate it 

TP: I want to put on record that all four tests came back negative, if Mr Stander wants to counter he is welcome 


16 Oct 11:24

TP: Did you know Anthony Emmet? 

CC: He is regional logistics manager 

TP: He is not family of the Panayiotous? 

CC: No 

TP: Can you explain the checks and balances to ensure that money doesn't go missing? 

[Coutts explains] 

TP: If there is a shortage, would that appear? 

CC: Yes, definitely 

TP: And each cashier cashes up their own till? 

CC: Yes, each one cashes up and it is sealed in a bag 

TP: Did you ever have any problems of money in your time there? 

CC: No 


16 Oct 11:21

TP: How old are you 

CC: I am 29 

TP: And you are not married or engaged at the moment

CC: No 

TP: Can you explain to his lordship, April 2015, what your position was at OK Grocer 

CC: I was a manager at OK Grocer 

TP: And what does that entail? 

CC: HR matters, salaries, day to day running of the store, managing budgets, stock control and finances 


16 Oct 11:17

(Derrick Spies/News24)


16 Oct 11:16

Terry Price: First and foremost, Mr Gouws is sitting to my right, he is representing Ms Coutts 

TP: I only intend to call Ms Coutts 

[Coutts enters the court formally dressed in a black suit, and is sworn in] 


16 Oct 11:14

 - COURT IS IN SESSION - 


16 Oct 11:10

Panayiotou Trial: Legal Representatives (Derrick Spies/News24) 


16 Oct 11:10

Panayiotou Trial: The Accused (Derrick Spies/News24)


16 Oct 11:10

Panayiotou trial: Mistress expected to testify 

Christopher Panayiotou's mistress, Chanelle Coutts, is expected to take to the stand in his defence on Monday morning when the trial resumes in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth.

Panayiotou and his co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde. A fourth suspect, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, the alleged hitman, died before the trial began.

The beloved 29-year-old teacher was kidnapped outside her townhouse complex in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, while waiting for her lift to Riebeek College Girls High School, on the morning of Tuesday, April 21 in 2015.

She was found shot dead in a veld outside KwaNobuhle township, Uitenhage, the following day.

Details of Panayiotou's sordid affair came to light when Coutts' best friend, Clarishka Kapp, took to the stand for the State a year ago. 


16 Oct 11:10

ICYMI: 

Panayiotou case: Defence asks State witness 6 questions 

The defence for Christopher Panayiotou asked a total of six questions of the State witness they recalled on Friday, before court adjourned.

Defence Advocate Terry Price SC, had asked that witness Laurika Booi be recalled.

Booi had worked for Panayiotou at the Inet Lounge in the Cotswold shopping centre complex, and the company had been registered in her name. 

Panayiotou and his co accused - Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko - are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde. 


16 Oct 11:10

ICYMI: 

Panayiotou trial: Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in State's crosshairs 

A Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions found himself in the crosshairs of the State during the Panayiotou trial on Thursday, when questioned about his involvement in the authorisation of a sting operation. 

Advocate Selwyn Gounden – who oversees prosecution in the province related to organised crime – was called by the defence as a witness on Wednesday and testified that, contrary to evidence given by the police, he had never given the go-ahead for a sting operation to take place. 

The sting operation resulted in the recording of a conversation between the alleged middleman who turned State witness, Luthando Siyoni, and Panayiotou, the admissibility of which was part of a lengthy trial-within-a-trial. 


16 Oct 11:10

ICYMI: 

Surprise witness in Panayiotou case 

Christopher Panayiotou’s defence opened its case with a surprise witness who disputed evidence given by the police that they had permission to go ahead with the audio and video recording from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Panayiotou and his co-accused – Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko – are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde. A fourth suspect, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, the alleged hitman, died before the trial began. 

Defence advocate, Terry Price SC, called Advocate Selvan Gounden from the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

Price pointed out that investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel had testified in the trial-within-a-trial that he had called Gounden on two separate occasions to get permission to go ahead with the audio and video recording of the meeting between Panayiotou and alleged middleman, turned state witness, Luthando Siyoni. 

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