Witness refuses to answer questions in Jayde murder trial

2016-11-21 13:08
Luthando Siyoni (Netwerk24)

Luthando Siyoni (Netwerk24)

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Port Elizabeth - The State's witness in the Jayde Panayiotou murder trial refused to answer any of the prosecutor's questions in a dramatic start to proceedings on Monday.

"I have said I am not going to answer any questions of yours Mr Stander," nightclub bouncer Luthando Siyoni said.

Siyoni was arrested on April 27 last year after Jayde disappeared from outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, on April 21.

She was found dead the next day in a field in KwaNobuhle.

She had been shot three times and, in a shock twist, her husband Christopher Panayiotou was among those charged in connection with her murder.

Court started late on Monday because one of his co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe, was appearing in a separate court for another murder case. 

In that case Nenembe stands accused with Fikile Mengo, Mkhuseli Ngqanda and Thanduxolo Vumazonke for the robbery and murder of 78-year-old Denise Webber, also from Kabega Park.

Thanduxolo Vumazonke is believed to be a cousin of the alleged hitman in the Jayde case, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, who died in September.

Hostile witness

Like his girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast, Siyoni has also been declared a hostile witness by the court in the Panayiotou trial, after denying the contents of statements he made on May 3 and 23.

Breakfast has already appeared in court on charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice after her about-turn earlier in the trial over a statement regarding money found in her boyfriend's gym bag.

The State alleges that Panayiotou organised a hit on his wife and Siyoni's testimony was supposed to have been crucial to supporting its case.

Earlier in the trial Siyoni had endured lengthy cross-examination on why he had had so much money in a gym bag seized by police during their investigations.

He explained that it was meant to go towards costs for gym weights Sizwezakhe Vumazonke was buying on his behalf. He explained that Panayiotou had been looking after the money he earned as a nightclub bouncer and gym owner so that he would not waste it.

'I am not going to read anything'

But when the court broached the topic of his arrest he became emotional and went on to say that police had tortured his statements out of him, describing harrowing scenes including a police officer allegedly jumping on him and being deprived of food, water and sleep.

After consultation with his own lawyer Zolile Ngqeza, Siyoni refused to answer any more questions and was declared a hostile witness.

"I want to afford you the opportunity, but if you don't want to take it, do you want to read through it and show me where you implicate accused number one [Panayiotou]?" asked prosecutor Marius Stander on Monday, trying a different approach.

"I am not going to read anything," said Siyoni.

With the prosecutor unable to get anything more out him, he was released from the witness stand.

Panayiotou, Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges for conspiracy, kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde.

The trial continues with Colonel Willie Mayi taking the stand.

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