Trial within a trial in Panayiotou murder case

2016-11-25 17:11
The accused, Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko in court. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

The accused, Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko in court. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - The High Court in Port Elizabeth will hold a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility as evidence of a recorded conversation between murder accused Christopher Panayiotou and his alleged middleman.

The conversation was taped during a sting operation by a police task team, shortly after the alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, was arrested.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde.

The 29-year-old teacher was kidnapped outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, while waiting for her lift to Riebeek College Girls High School, on the morning of Tuesday, April 21, last year. She was found shot dead in a veld outside KwaNobuhle township, Uitenhage, the following day.

Siyoni turned State witness after his arrest.

On Friday, at the beginning of the trial within a trial, prosecutor Marius Stander called the original investigating officer, Detective Constable Aldre Koen, to the stand. 

Koen testified that his commanding officer, a Colonel Rowan, called to tell him about Siyoni’s arrest shortly before midnight on April 27.

Koen told the court how Rowan had told him the following morning that a task team had been appointed to investigate the case and that Captain Kanna Swanepoel would lead it. 

Recording of conversation played in court

On April 28 he, Swanepoel, and other detectives decided to instruct Siyoni to remain in contact with Panayiotou and intimate that no one had been arrested yet. 

They used a bakkie equipped with video and audio recording devices. Siyoni and another police officer travelled in the bakkie to meet Panayiotou at an Engen petrol station in Algoa Park. 

Detectives followed the bakkie, but had not been able to listen to the conversation as it took place. Koen said on their return to the office, Siyoni gave him money, which he booked into evidence. 

Stander then played a recording of a conversation between Koen and Panayiotou, which took place shortly after the conversation with Siyoni. In it, Panayiotou can be heard telling Koen that he had met Siyoni, and that Siyoni wanted money to go to East London. 

He told Koen he was on his way to his mother’s house for the evening. 

Stander then asked for an adjournment, as he wanted to argue for the actual video footage taken in the car to be played in court as part of the trial within a trial.

Terry Price, for Panayiotou, objected, saying he had not been made aware of Stander’s intentions. He said he was not ready to argue and asked for court to stand down until Monday. 

Stander indicated he could proceed after lunch, and court was adjourned.

Read more on:    christopher panayiotou  |  port elizabeth  |  court

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