Self-confessed middleman in Jayde Panayiotou's murder loses immunity

2017-11-23 18:57
Luthando Siyoni. (Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni. (Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth – Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou on behalf of her husband Christopher, had his immunity as a Section 204 witness revoked in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

This means that Siyoni, who had worked for Christopher, will now face charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, as well as robbery. He will be arrested, charged and have a separate trial in relation to the charges.

Panayiotou and Sinethemba Nenembe were earlier found guilty of Jayde's murder, while Zolani Sibeko was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. The fourth accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September last year before the trial began.

AS IT HAPPENED: #Panayiotou sentencing deadline set

Jayde was abducted in front of her Stellen Glen home on April 21, 2015. She was then taken to a remote area, where she was shot three times - twice in the back and once in the head.

Siyoni, who is currently a free man, was not present in court on Thursday, but was represented by his attorney, Zolile Ngqeza.

Siyoni’s role in Jayde’s murder

Siyoni was the first suspect arrested in connection with Jayde's murder.

He confessed to his role in sourcing a hitman, and implicated Panayiotou as the one behind the plan to have her murdered.

A video of a meeting between Siyoni and Panayiotou during a police operation was hotly contested in a trial within a trial, before being ruled admissible, and played a significant role proving Panayiotou's guilt in his wife’s murder.

In his Section 204 statement, Siyoni described how he had been approached by Panayiotou to source a hitman to murder his wife, and how, after a few failed attempts, he had contracted Vumazonke to commit the act.

Lied in court

However, when it came to testifying in court, Siyoni told a completely different story, talking about how he and Vumazonke were involved in a deal to buy gym weights.

Siyoni testified for six days in November last year, but spent two of those refusing to answer any questions put to him by State Advocate Marius Stander.

READ: Panayiotou 'middleman' refuses to answer questions

During cross-examination, Siyoni said he had been assaulted by police and forced into making a confession.

Siyoni’s conduct was harshly criticised by Judge Dayalin Chetty who, in the judgment, called his testimony "a cocktail of lies, perjury and contrivances" designed to advance Panayiotou's defence.

Immunity denied

Following the closing arguments regarding sentencing, Judge Chetty asked Ngqeza to address the court on why he should award Siyoni indemnity.

Ngqeza said Siyoni was in fact the victim, and referred Chetty to email correspondence between himself and the State, wherein Siyoni had advised that he no longer wished to be a Section 204 witness and wanted to stand as one of the accused.

Ngqeza said that, following the State’s application to have Siyoni declared a hostile witness, he had advised his client not to incriminate himself, and said if this advice was wrong, that he should be held accountable, and not Siyoni.

READ: Siyoni declared a hostile witness in Panayiotou Trial

Ngqeza said he had consulted case law, but could not find any references to a Section 204 witness being discredited by the State.

Following his address, Judge Chetty found that there were no compelling reasons not to revoke Siyoni’s status as a Section 204 witness, and ruled that he lose his immunity status.

Court reconvenes at 9:30 on Friday, when Panayiotou, Nenembe and Sibeko will be sentenced.

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

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