Panayiotou defence attorney clashes with witness over 'borrowed' phone

2016-10-21 14:04
The accused in the Panayiotou case. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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

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Port Elizabeth - There were 27 phone calls between Christopher Panayiotou and the alleged middleman accused of arranging his wife Jayde's murder, using a phone Panayiotou supposedly borrowed from an employee.

This emerged during intense cross-examination of Mawonga Ndwede, a sacked merchandiser for the Panayiotou family businesses - an OK Grocer and the Infinity nightclub in the Port Elizabeth.

He was testifying in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Friday. Panayiotou's advocate Terry Price SC subjected him to intense cross-examination.

Cellphone records presented to the court show that these calls were on a phone that Ndwede says he lent to Christopher Panayiotou.

Ndwede had claimed that Christopher Panayiotou frequently borrowed his cellphone in the two weeks leading up to Jayde's disappearance on April 21 2015, and the discovery of a her body a day later.

Ndwede claimed Panayiotou would give him R60 airtime and then take the phone and use it out of earshot.


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

He claimed that Panayiotou even once kept it overnight, a contradiction of earlier testimony that he always had it at night.

"The longest time was when he took the phone and kept it with him the entire night and I only got it the following day at Infinity," Ndwede said.

"But you just said the phone was with you every night," countered Price.

"It was just that one time."

Price demanded an explanation for why Ndwede had not put that in his statement.

"You are making a noose for yourself Mr Ndwede," commented Price.

Ndwede could not explain that, or why he had not approached prosecutor Marius Stander to supplement his statement with that information.

Ndwede said he never called Siyoni himself and although he and Siyoni chatted when he went to "Brandy Night" at the Infinity bar, where Siyoni worked, they were not friends and did not talk beyond that.

Threat to family

The phone has become important to the case because Ndwede claimed that Panayiotou eventually gave him R1 000 and asked him to get rid of the phone after Jayde's death.

He kept the handset because it was relatively new, but Panayiotou destroyed the SIM card, he claimed. He also allegedly demanded R150 000 from the Panayiotous not to take the phone to the police.

He testified that he was off work on the day Jayde disappeared and was at home in Zwide between 06:00 and 08:00. Jayde disappeared from outside her home at the Stellen Glen townhouse complex in Kabega Park while waiting for a lift to Riebeeck College in Uitenhage where she worked.

In a heated moment during his sacking, he threatened to give the phone to police if the family did not give him R150 000.

The court was adjourned until Monday for further cross examination of Ndwede.

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

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

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

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

Siyoni is a State witness.

Read more on:    christopher panayiotou  |  jayde panayiotou  |  crime

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