State knew Siyoni would not stick to statements - defence

2016-11-19 07:29
The Family of Jayde Panayiotou was upset at the incorrect spelling of her name during court proceedings. (Derrick Spies, News24)

The Family of Jayde Panayiotou was upset at the incorrect spelling of her name during court proceedings. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth – The State knew its witness, the alleged middleman in Jayde Panayiotou’s murder, would not stick to his statements, the High Court in Port Elizabeth heard on Friday.

Luthando Siyoni had instructed his lawyer, Zolile Ngqeza, to tell prosecutor Marius Stander that he did not want to be a State witness anymore and that he would rather stand as one of the accused.

This was according to correspondence between Stander and Ngqeza, which Terry Price, for murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou, produced in court.

Stander objected and said he wanted it made clear that he had not made the correspondence available to Price. 

Siyoni allegedly hired Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to kill Panayiotou’s schoolteacher wife Jayde on April 21 last year. He became a State witness, but on Wednesday and Thursday he refused to answer any of Stander’s questions and was declared a hostile witness. 

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe, and Zolani Sibeko, are on trial on charges of conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, and robbery with aggravated circumstances. Panayiotou is also facing an additional count of defeating the ends of justice. They have pleaded not guilty.

Vumazonke was an accused in the matter, but died in a state hospital in September, before the trial started. 

Price continued cross-examining Siyoni, who told the court he met Stander and Ngqeza at the High Court in September this year. His mother was also present. He had told them he was going to testify about being assaulted by police after his arrest and would rather be an accused than lie.

Siyoni said he was given the weekend to reconsider, and would have to report to the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth the following Monday, September 26, to have his status as a State witness cancelled. 

Siyoni said his mother had left the meeting in tears as Stander had warned him that, if he opted to stand trial as an accused, he risked life imprisonment. 

Price referred to another meeting in which Siyoni and Ngqeza met Stander the day before the trial started. He again told the State he would be telling the court about his alleged assault at the hands of police, and that he wanted to deviate from his original statements. 

Siyoni said the State never gave him the opportunity to show which parts of his statement he wanted changed. 

Stander then asked Siyoni if he would answer any of his questions. Siyoni said he would not.

The trial continues on Monday.


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

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