Panayiotou court adjourns for private playing of key phone call

2016-10-21 11:43
Marius Stander chats to Panayiotou’s attorney Alwyn Griebenow. (Derrick Spies, News24)

Marius Stander chats to Panayiotou’s attorney Alwyn Griebenow. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth - A recording of a conversation between Jayde Panayiotou's mother-in-law and a key witness in her murder trial will be heard behind closed doors in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Friday morning.

This was after Mawonga Ndedwa testified on Thursday that he had demanded R150 000 from Christopher Panayiotou's mother Fanoula in exchange for keeping quiet over her son's use of his phone in the lead up to Jayde's death.

Ndedwa had worked as a merchandiser at the family's OK Grocer and the Infinity nightclub, both in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth.

Ndedwa testified on Thursday that, while he was signing the documents that led to him being fired for stealing whisky from the business, he had laughed and made the threat and the demand.

He testified that Christopher Panayiotou had borrowed his cellphone from time to time in the two weeks before Jayde was kidnapped on April 21 2015.

He found out that Panayiotou had been using it to call nightclub bouncer Luthando Siyoni, who has turned State witness and is thought to have been the middleman in what the State believes was an organised hit on Jayde.

Claim challenged

READ: LIVE: You are opening a noose for yourself Mr Ndedwa - witness warned in Panayiotou trail

Ndedwa has testified that Panayiotou gave him R1 000 to get rid of the phone, but he kept it because it was still relatively new. He claimed Panayiotou destroyed the SIM card.

He said the phone made him feel uneasy and it was when he was signing the documents that led to his dismissal that he made the demand for R150 000 hush money.

He claimed to have called the house to speak to Fanoula after he made the threat to find out what the family was going to do.

But Panayiotou's lawyer, Terry Price, said on Thursday he had a recording and transcript of the conversation to prove that that was not the content of the conversation.

Ndedwa said he eventually contacted the police in February about the phone after seeing in the Herald newspaper that police were trying to track the owner of that number.

It was collected from him and handed to investigating officer Lieutenant Kanna Swanepoel.

Salary advances

READ: Cross-examination of Panayiotou's ex-employee to continue

On Friday, Price said the newspaper had not run such an article.

Price also established through cross-examination that Ndedwa frequently received advances on his salary from Panayiotou and not all were deducted from his pay.

Court was adjourned and cleared for prosecutor Marius Stander to hear the recording because he had not been privy to it yet.

On Thursday the court also heard that he spotted a bag of money in a storeroom of the family business and that Panayiotou asked him to give it to colleague Luthando Siyoni.

Siyoni did not come into work that day and the next time he looked, the money was gone.

When court resumed it was confirmed that the recording and transcript were the same.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde, 29. They pleaded not guilty.

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September.

The trial continues.

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Read more on:    jayde panayiotou  |  christopher panayiotou  |  crime

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