Torture claims heard in Panayiotou trial

2016-11-14 20:12
Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - A bouncer at Christopher Panayiotou's nightclub claimed police beat him so severely that he eventually just signed a police statement, the High Court in Port Elizabeth heard on Monday.

“I spoke to them, but only after they tortured me,” State witness Luthando Siyoni, a bouncer at Panayiotou's nightclub, testified.

An emotional Siyoni said police picked him up outside the nightclub in Algoa Park and drove him to Uitenhage. There they beat him so badly that he could not tell which part of his body the blood was coming from, he claimed.

He was testifying in the trial of Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe, and Zolani Sibeko on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing, and killing Christopher’s wife Jayde on April 21 last year. They pleaded not guilty.

Siyoni allegedly hired the hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, who died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September.

Siyoni became emotional when the subject of his arrest on April 27 was broached late in the afternoon. He said plain-clothes police showed him their ID badges and escorted him out of the club.

In Uitenhage, he was taken upstairs and locked in an office under guard. Five officers first removed his handcuffs and then bound his hands behind his back with rope. He was put on the ground. A car tyre tube was pulled over his face and pulled up while someone sat on him, and another jumped on his feet.

“The time while I was pulled by the tube, I was unable to breathe,” he testified.

“After some time he would leave me so that I would hit my head on the floor. I just had short breathing spaces in between. Then they would say 'talk', and then placed the tube over me again.”

At one stage he was struck in the face while the tube was over him. When they removed the tube, Detective Willie Mayi, one of the five police officers in the room, wiped blood off his face. 

‘Didn’t know where I was’

“At the time I was assaulted I did not even know where I was. 'Then I said ok, ok I know what I am going to say, and I told them.”

The assault stopped. One of the officers pulled up his pants, which had fallen down, and other brought him water.

Prosecutor Marius Stander asked Siyoni if he had told the police his version of events before he was assaulted.

He referred to his statement earlier in the day when Siyoni told the court that Vumazonke had told him that Panayiotou had hired him (Vumazonke) to kill Jayde and that he was now playing hide-and-seek with him.

Siyoni told the court that Panayiotou gave him R80 000 to give to Vumazonke, but that he only gave him R50 000 while he kept R30 000. He said he told the police this, but that they had not accepted his version.

Siyoni said after his assault he was taken to the Kabega Park police station and asked to sign a warning statement Mayi had prepared. He did not know what the document contained. It was not read out to him, but he signed it.

The trial continues.

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

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