Police grilled by defence over Siyoni in Panayiotou trial

2016-11-23 21:21
Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - The police officer who transported alleged middleman-turned-State witness Luthando Siyoni was grilled further by Christopher Panayiotou's defence counsel during the 30th day of the trial in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

Records indicate that Siyoni made a confession under oath in Fort Beaufort after his arrest detailing his role as a middleman in hiring a hitman to murder Panayiotou's wife Jayde. He later became a section 204 witness for the State and gave a second statement which again implicated Panayiotou.

During his testimony in court, however, Siyoni said he had nothing to do with the hit and his relationship with the alleged hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke, was linked to a search for cheap second-hand weights for his gym.

He alleged that Vumazonke had told him that he had been hired to kill Jayde and that Panayiotou had given him R80 000 to give to Vumazonke.

Siyoni further alleged that he was severely assaulted by the arresting officers who had picked him up at the Infinity club, owned by Panayiotou and where Siyoni had worked as a bouncer.

Siyoni was later declared a hostile witness after he refused, for two days, to answer even a single question from the State relating to the statements he had made.

'Selective memory'

Following his testimony the State has been calling witnesses to confirm the details around Siyoni's arrest and the affidavits that he made.

Warrant Officer Dirk Greeff, who had been asked to transport Siyoni to Fort Beaufort police station and who had noted Siyoni's swollen eye, came under cross-examination from defence counsel for Panayiotou for the second day.

Greeff was questioned about why he had remembered trivial details while apparently forgetting to note important aspects like Siyoni turning down legal counsel.

"Tell us why you leave out critical things and remember trivial things like teasing your partner Reynolds, why is that?" asked Price.

"It is what I remember," said Greeff.

"You have a very selective memory," said Price.

"Thank you," said Greeff.

"It was not a compliment," said Price.

Statement translated

Price also questioned Greeff on why he had left the Kabega Park Police Station before finding out where he was going.

"This has to be the most bizarre comment I have heard in a court of law. You're saying you got into a car not knowing where you were taking him, or what for. Is that what you are saying?" he asked.

Greeff said he had been following instructions and had been informed shortly after leaving the charge office that they were bound for Fort Beaufort.

After Greeff's testimony State prosecutor Marius Stander called Captain Ntembiso Ndzendeni, who had taken down Siyoni's confession in Fort Beaufort.

Ndzendeni told the court he had informed Siyoni of his rights and that Siyoni had turned down legal representation. He told the court he had spoken to Siyoni in Xhosa and had acted as an interpreter, taking down the statement in English.

Ndzendeni told the court he had not had any previous knowledge of the case and that Siyoni had spoken freely and willingly. Ndzendeni told the court that Siyoni's allegation that he had threatened him into making a confession was a lie, as was the allegation that, aside for one or two points, he had not mentioned anything contained in the confession.

"Everything I wrote down in this statement is what I got from him and he is the one who conveyed it to me," said Ndzendeni.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Thursday at 09:30. 

Read more on:    christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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