Panayiotou prosecutor moves to discredit State witness

2016-11-15 22:10
State prosecutor in the Panayiotou case, Marius Stander. (News24)

State prosecutor in the Panayiotou case, Marius Stander. (News24)

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Port Elizabeth - The prosecutor in Christopher Panayiotou’s murder trial on Tuesday moved to discredit a State witness after he backtracked on statements he gave to police.

This could mean that the alleged middleman in Jayde Panayiotou’s murder, Luthando Siyoni, might not be granted indemnity from prosecution if the court finds he was not truthful in his testimony.

After prosecutor Marius Stander revealed his intentions in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth, Siyoni first poured himself a glass of water.

He then hit back with a monologue on how Stander had known all along that he would deviate from his statements.

Siyoni had testified over the last few days about how police allegedly tortured, threatened, and intimidated him to make false statements in custody.

Assault claim

READ: Panayiotou witness complains of police intimidation, threats

When Stander took him through a statement he made at Fort Beaufort, point-for-point on Tuesday, Siyoni either implied that police must have written down false information, or that he was forced to say things after being tortured.

“I told Mr Stander I was not going to mention what was written here because it is rubbish. If he did not agree then they can make me an accused.”

He was not made an accused.

Siyoni said Stander and the investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel pleaded with him to not give up being a State witness.

After consulting Stander and his lawyer Zolile Ngqeza, they said he must not mention that he was assaulted.

Ngqeza was informed that they would not be able to use his client if he stuck to his claims that he was assaulted and told to say certain things.

“I was therefore surprised to be called to court on Monday.”

He alleged that Swanepoel mentioned tree poison.

“If this thing came out then they would poison me,” Siyoni said.

A common legal metaphor is that of the fruit of the poisonous tree, which is used to describe evidence obtained illegally. If the source (the tree) of the evidence is tainted, then anything gained from that (the fruit) is also tainted. Such evidence is not normally admissible in court.

“Everything that happened between myself, Mr Kanna and Mr Stander, including the people who tortured me, Mr Stander knows,” said Siyoni.

“I am surprised that he is asking questions about things as if he is not aware of the content because he knows the truth. This is not the truth.”

Siyoni, a body builder, worked as a bouncer for Panayiotou at his Infinity nightclub in Port Elizabeth. He allegedly acted as a middleman, hiring Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to murder Jayde.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, and kidnapping, robbing and murdering Jayde on April 21 2015. They pleaded not guilty.

Vumazonke died in hospital in September.

Panayiotou’s lawyer Terry Price said it needed to be established if Stander knew beforehand that Siyoni would deviate from his statements.

“I find it highly doubtful,” said Judge Dayalin Chetty.

Court was adjourned until Wednesday.

Read more on:    jayde pana­yiotou  |  christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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