State to call its first witness in Panayiotou trial

2016-10-12 06:04
Murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou in court to hear his bail judgment. (Derrick Spies, News24)

Murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou in court to hear his bail judgment. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth - The State will call its first witness in the case against Christopher Panayiotou and his co-accused in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

Panayiotou and his co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to conspiring to rob, kidnap and kill Panayiotou's wife Jayde in April last year. A fourth accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by a bouncer in Panayiotou's employ named Luthando Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September. Siyoni has since turned State witness.

Prosecutor Marius Stander is expected to call Jayde's friend and work colleague Cherise Swanepoel to testify as his first witness. Swanepoel and Jayde used to travel together to Riebeeck College where they taught. 

On Tuesday Stander described how hitman Vumazonke had hired a car and how GPS tracking in the vehicle showed that the car had travelled to Swanepoel's home, in a secluded area, late at night on April 12. On April 13, the rented vehicle was again at Swanepoel's home.

On April 15 and 16, Vumazonke, Nenembe and Sibeko allegedly circled the Stellen Glen complex. They raced back and forth between Jayde and Swanepoel's residences but could not find the women.

Stander said that on the morning of April 21, Vumazonke and Nenembe returned to Stellen Glen. From cellphone tracking records it appeared that one was dropped off outside while the other circled the complex at least eight times. When an SMS was sent the car sped back to the complex.

Stander also told the court that on the day that Jayde was abducted Swanepoel was supposed to pick her up outside her home.

At 06:27 there was still contact between Jayde and Swanepoel.

Swanepoel sent a WhatsApp message that was never delivered to Jayde's phone. The State would lead evidence that her phone was already switched off, Stander said.

Read more on:    christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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