Port Elizabeth - The four men who stand accused of orchestrating the murder of Jayde Panayiotou in April last year made a brief appearance in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.
Christopher Panayiotou, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko appeared briefly in front of Judge Glen Goosen for their pre-trial after a lengthy delay on Thursday morning. The matter was, however, postponed due to Vumazonke being ill.
Vumazonke, wearing a grey and blue hoodie, had apparently been violently ill in the holding cells earlier. He struggled up the stairs and appeared to have lost a lot of weight since his last appearance.
The latest suspect linked to the murder, Sibeko, made his first appearance alongside the other co-accused. Wearing a cream-coloured jacket, Sibeko was at pains to keep his face hidden from the media, keeping his head down and hands over his face both before and after proceedings when photos were allowed to be taken.
Addressing Goosen on her client's illness, advocate Hannelie Bakker said she had been informed of Vumazonke's illness on Tuesday by his sister. Bakker attempted to have Vumazonke brought to the High Court to consult with her on Wednesday, however, he had not been brought to court from St Albans prison.
She said she had also tried to communicate with Vumazonke on Thursday before the case but that he had not been able to communicate with her to give her instructions.
She said according to Nenembe, who apparently shares a cell with Vumazonke at St Albans, her client has been ill for the past two weeks, was very weak and battled to walk. She said while he had apparently received some medical treatment at St Albans it was clearly not sufficient.
Accused referred to hospital
Prosecutor Marius Stander said he had been made aware of Vumazonke's illness before proceedings got underway and had tried to get the district surgeon in to examine him, but said this was not possible as the surgeon did not have the necessary equipment at hand.
Stander said the district surgeon had referred the case to the casualty unit at Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital, where Vumazonke would be taken after the proceedings were dismissed.
Stander said the defence council of the four accused had agreed on the date of September 5 for the new pre-trial date.
Advocate Alfonso Hattingh, who was representing Panayiotou in court on Thursday, said they were in agreement with the date but raised the issue of an application they had lodged.
According to Panayiotou's attorney, Alwyn Griebenow, who instructed Hattingh, the application is for the provision of additional documentation that the State has that has not been handed over to Panayiotou's defence.
Goosen said he was happy to postpone the case to allow Vumazonke to receive the necessary medical care. He also instructed Stander and Hattingh to meet with him in his chambers afterwards to discuss the application.
He then remanded the matter to September 5 for the pre-trial.