Port Elizabeth - Christopher Panayiotou’s arrest for the murder of his wife Jayde was based on the statement of a witness police allegedly had assaulted, the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court heard on Monday.
Terry Price, for Panayiotou, said the witness, Luthando Siyoni, had “the seven bells of hell beaten out of him” by police.
He was arguing that there were new facts before the court to justify proceeding with a second bail application.
Charges against Siyoni, a bouncer at Panayiotou's nightclub in Algoa Park, who allegedly acted as the middleman in Jayde’s murder, were withdrawn after he turned State witness.
Panayiotou, 29, is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife in April last year, along with alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, and Sinethemba Nenembe, who was more recently linked to the case.
Price told Magistrate Abigail Beeton there was sufficient evidence in the docket, which he had been denied access to during Panayiotou’s first bail application, showing Siyoni was assaulted before giving his statement.
Price said prosecutor Marius Stander and investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel never denied allegations, made during the initial bail application, that police assaulted Siyoni.
Police had noted the injuries to Siyoni’s left eye at the time of his arrest.
Price said Vumazonke was also assaulted during his arrest. He too appeared in court last year with a swollen eye.
“Siyoni was unlawfully and illegally held,” said Price.
Price argued that, on the basis of the alleged assault and the fact that Siyoni had been illegally detained, there was a reasonable possibility that his evidence would be thrown out during the trial. This would weaken the State’s case.
This meant that, when police arrested Panayiotou, they had no grounds to do so, Price said.