Relative of deceased suspect testifies in Panayiotou case

2016-10-19 13:36
Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke. (News24)

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Port Elizabeth - The man who ran away during the arrest of the supposed triggerman in teacher Jayde Panayiotou's death was tracked down to testify during day six of her murder trial in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Marius Stander started the morning by questioning a distant relative of the late Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, taxi driver Ntsikeleo Gqirana.

Gqirana told the court that he and Vumazonke had driven past each other on the road on May 3 and later that night they spoke on the phone. They discussed Vumazonke lending him his car because his taxi was out on a contract. Gqirana told the court he wanted to go out and watch a Floyd Mayweather boxing match.

Gqirana, from KwaNobuhle, told Stander that he agreed to meet Vumazonke and they were going to go watch the match later that night. When he found out the fight was going to be later than he initially thought, he first went to visit his girlfriend and agreed to pick up Vumazonke and Vumazonke's girlfriend later.

Later Gqirana went with Vumazonke and his girlfriend to the SKZ tavern. He said he was driving, with Vumazonke's girlfriend next to him and Vumazonke in the middle of the back seat behind him. While they were listening to music, Vumazonke leaned forward and whispered to Gqirana that he take his phone and make sure his girlfriend does not see it.

Gqirana, who remembered it as a type of tablet phone, snuck it into one of his pockets, while his own, a Blackberry phone, was charging in the car.


"I'm not sure what the reason was, but I know that he didn't want the girl to have the phone," said Gqirana.

Gqirana said he was outside the car, with the phone still in his pocket, when he saw people running to the car and heard what sounded like a gunshot. He said he ran away because he thought they were being robbed. He said Vumazonke's girlfriend, whose name Gqirana could not remember, was still in the front seat of the car. Vumazonke was getting back into the car.

He ran away, with Vumazonke's phone still in his pocket, and his own Blackberry in the car, and went off to watch the boxing, as planned. He thought Vumazonke would call him but he did not.

The next morning he went to ask Vumazonke's sister where he was because he still had his phone.

"I was going to give her the phone, but I decided not to as the phone is very delicate and has sensitive information so I kept it with me," he said.

Vumazonke also still had Gqirana's phone.

Confusion over phones

When he left Vumazonke's sister's home he was approached by police who said they had traced Vumazonke's phone and wanted it handed over to them. He went with them to the police station as he also wanted his own phone back.

During cross examination, Gqirana told attorney Paul Daubermann that he took Vumazonke's phone out about two or three times but did not use it. He did not know how to use a touch screen so it took him a few days of having it before he started pushing buttons and saw that the black screen could be turned on.

There was some confusion over the phones after Daubermann showed that Gqirana introduced another phone in his original statement to the police – a black Samsung that Vumazonke lent him briefly at around midnight to call his girlfriend to say he was running late. He borrowed Vumazonke's other phone because he had no airtime on his own.

Vumazonke died in prison on September 7 after going into a coma. The lawyer for Panayiotou's other co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe, accused Gqirana of lying about the phones, but Gqirana denied this.

Panayiotou, Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are facing charges of conspiring, as well as kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde on April 21 last year. They pleaded not guilty.

The Riebeek College Girls' High School teacher was kidnapped while waiting for her lift to work outside the Stellen Glen complex in Deacon Road, Kabega Park, on April 21 last year. Her body was found in a veld in KwaNobuhle the next day. She was shot twice in the back and once in the head.

The court heard on Tuesday that Vumazonke was traced to KwaNobuhle and after a stakeout was arrested in a car near a tavern. One man ran away and a woman stayed in the car during arrest.

Vumazonke is alleged to have banged his head on a door, apparently trying to get away during the arrest.

The trial continues.

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

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