Panayiotou trial resumes two years after Jayde’s death

2017-04-21 17:30
Christopher Panayiotou (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Christopher Panayiotou (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - The trial of Christopher Panayiotou and his co-accused - Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko - resumed in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday, exactly two years from the day that his wife Jayde was abducted and murdered.

The three are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde.

A fourth suspect, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, the alleged hitman, died before the trial began.

The case continued on Friday, with a trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of a recording of Panayiotou and his bouncer, Luthando Siyoni, the alleged middleman who turned State witness shortly after Jayde's murder.

Key witnesses not called

Two key witnesses, magistrates who had visited with Siyoni while he was in protective custody, were scheduled to testify on Friday afternoon.

They were not called, however, as the court is currently undergoing maintenance, and builders had informed Judge Dayalin Chetty that they would be cutting near the courtroom where the proceedings were being held.

Defence Advocate Terry Price raised his objections to the magistrates being called, as affidavits that had been taken from them exceeded their mandate, which was to check on the conditions of Siyoni while he was in protective custody.

"Affidavits have been taken and, in one of them, there is what is tantamount to a confession from Siyoni," said Price.

Chetty said he could not say what the witness was going to say beforehand.

"We can cross the bridge when we get there," he said.

"But we shouldn’t even get to the bridge," said an exasperated Price, adding that he was getting tired of objecting.

Siyoni’s swollen eye still under debate

Earlier in the day, State prosecutor Marius Stander called a number of witnesses to testify to proceedings relating to Siyoni’s time in custody between April 27, 2015, when he was arrested, and April 30, when Panayiotou was arrested.

Chief among the witnesses called was Warrant Officer Shane Bosch, who had collected Siyoni from the holding cells at Kabega Park Police Station and had transported him to the Organised Crime division during what became the sting operation against Panayiotou that led to the contested video recording.

Bosch confirmed that he had noted in the Kabega Park occurrence book that Siyoni’s left eye was swollen.

"When I booked him out of the cells, I noticed he had a slightly left swollen eye. I also made him take off his shirt to inspect if he had any other injuries. I did not see any other injuries and made note of the eye before I transported him," he said.

Bosch said Siyoni had been warned of his rights by investigating officer Captain Kanna Swanepoel and had, of his own volition, offered to make the calls to Panayiotou to show them the role Panayiotou had played in organising his wife’s murder.

Bosch said Swanepoel had sought advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to the legality of making the calls and had been given the go-ahead.

He said that recordings of the calls had been made and that, on April 29, Panayiotou had requested a meeting with Siyoni, which had led to the meeting and subsequent recording of Panayiotou and Siyoni at the Engen garage.

Missing pocketbooks

Bosch said he had observed the meeting taking place from a Steers, although he could not see or hear what was taking place inside the vehicle at the time.

He told the court that afterwards the video footage had been reviewed and that, subsequently, Panayiotou had been arrested at his parent’s home in Uitenhage.

Under cross-examination, Price again raised the issue of missing pocketbooks, as Bosch’s pocket book had apparently been stolen last year.

Price also questioned Bosch on why, if they had recorded the calls, they had not recorded Siyoni being warned.

He also pointed out that, while Siyoni was at the organised crime offices for more than 5 hours on April 28, there were just over 30 minutes of recordings.

Price asked Bosch what had been discussed that had not been recorded.

"Did you ask him about the case," he asked.

Bosch said they had discussed a number of things, including who else was involved in the case, but when asked if he had made any notes, he said he did not but did not know if anyone else did.

Price countered by saying that, to date, no notes aside from the recordings on the time in question, had been presented.

Price also challenged Bosch on why they had not agreed to Panayiotou’s request to meet Siyoni at an OK Grocer.

Bosch said if they had done that they would not have been able to record the conversation.

"Precisely," said Price.

The case continues on Monday at 09:00.


Read more on:    christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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