Middleman in Jayde Panayiotou's murder applies for bail

2018-05-23 14:16
Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped to plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped to plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped to plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou on behalf of her husband Christopher, is applying for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court.

Siyoni, who evaded arrest for six months, and whose bail application has been repeatedly postponed, is facing two charges for his role in the murder in April 2015.

He is facing conspiracy to commit murder and murder charges, which are both schedule 6 offences. These require the accused to prove exceptional circumstances in order to qualify for bail. 

In his defence, Siyoni said he would be pleading not guilty, adding that he had no previous convictions or pending cases.

READ: Middleman in Jayde Panayiotou murder asks prosecutor to recuse himself

Further, Siyoni said he had been operating a gym, where he currently had 10 members paying R70 a month. He said this work was to bring in money for his family as well as helping the community to stay healthy and reduce crime.

He said that, during the previous trial, he had cooperated with the State, even though his life had been in danger and even after he was declared a hostile witness.

Siyoni said he was not a flight risk, had no passport and had never left South Africa. 

Overwhelming evidence against Siyoni

State advocate Marius Stander then read a lengthy affidavit from investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel into the record, which dealt extensively with the evidence that was led in the High Court trial.

Siyoni was initially arrested as the first accused in the murder, but became a Section 204 witness before the trial in exchange for indemnity for his role as middleman. However, during the trial he changed his version of events, refused to answer questions put to him by Stander and was declared a hostile witness. 

In his judgment in the Panayiotou trial, Judge Dayalin Chetty found Siyoni’s testimony to be "a cocktail of lies, perjury and contrivances" designed to advance Panayiotou's defence, and revoked his immunity status, resulting in his arrest.

Stander said the evidence overwhelmingly showed the involvement of Siyoni in the kidnapping and murder of Jayde.

Objection to evidence led

Siyoni's attorney Zolile Ngqeza repeatedly objected to the evidence from the previous trial being placed on record by Stander.

Magistrate Mashiyi asked Ngqeza what type of evidence was led in a bail application. He responded that it was the evidence that the state intended to lead against the accused. She said that was what Stander was doing.

Stander said the objection was laughable as the criminal procedures act said any evidence led in one court is admissible in another. 

READ: Jayde Panayiotou murder: Middleman applies for his release on bail

He said Swanepoel had the option of either bringing various affidavits of witnesses, or saying that those witnesses had already testified in court and this is what was said.

Mashiyi then overruled the objection.

After the trial

Swanepoel's affidavit also dealt with issues after the trial had concluded. 

He stated that since the conclusion of last year's trial, organised crime members had been looking for Siyoni without success. He said they had approached Ngqeza on various occasions for assistance without success.

Swanepoel said the residential address in Kwazakhele given by Siyoni, had been demolished, and despite numerous visits both day and night, to Siyoni's mother as well as his girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast had not been successful.

He said Siyoni's mother had said he did not live there anymore and Breakfast said they had broken up. 

Information that Siyoni was helping at a gym in Kwazakhele had led to a sting operation with an undercover police officer joining the gym with the hope of arresting him, without success.

Siyoni's arrest

On the day of Siyoni’s arrest, information had come to the police's attention that Siyoni was at his mother’s home. Swanepoel said he had been in East London at the time and Warrant Officer Shane Bosch had gone to the home. He said Siyoni's mother had again said he was not there, but Bosch had noted a cellphone on charge.

On leaving the main building Bosch had noted a secondary structure. He had then heard Siyoni's voice coming from behind a door and kicked it in. He found Siyoni with a female companion, who was not Breakfast.

Bosch then arrested Siyoni. 

Stander argued that Siyoni was a flight risk, having evaded arrest for six months. 

After Stander finished reading the affidavit into the record, Ngqeza asked for an adjournment saying he would need to consult with his client and submit a responding affidavit. He asked for the matter to be postponed to another day as he had other matters to  attend to.

Magistrate Mashiyi said Ngqeza had not indicated his time was limited and would have to ask to be excused from his other cases, and adjourned until 14:00.

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Read more on:    jayde panayiotou  |  luthando siyoni  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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