Murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou on Tuesday said he had loved his wife Jayde, had been falsely implicated in her death, and believed the State had "trashed" his right to a fair trial.
Panayiotou maintained that he had never before met his co-accused and did not know them, his lawyer Terry Price read from his plea explanation in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday.
He pleaded not guilty to conspiring to rob, kidnap, and kill Jayde (29) a school teacher, in April last year.
He loved her and they had bought a house together worth R2.2m. He denied the State’s claim that he had paid State witness Luthando Siyoni R80 000 to hire a hitman.
His co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, tendered pleas of not guilty.
Panayiotou also pleaded not guilty to a charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
A fourth accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September. Siyoni worked for Panayiotou.
Panayiotou claimed Siyoni was assaulted to obtain evidence. All evidence against him was, therefore, tainted and inadmissible.
The State found R31 000 with Siyoni’s girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast. Their DNA was found on the money. Panayiotou said there was no evidence that he handled the money.
He said the State had "trashed" his right to a fair trial and it had no evidence linking him to the case at the time of his arrest. He had been denied the right to an attorney, he said.
Price said police never informed Siyoni or his girlfriend of their rights. Panayiotou alleged that police had assaulted Siyoni on four occasions and taken him to Fort Beaufort police station to isolate him and take him away from his support structures.
Panayiotou claimed the investigating officer, Kanna Swanepoel, had forced Siyoni to frame him.
When that didn’t work, Panayiotou claimed Swanepoel threatened Siyoni to get him [Panayiotou] to confess to Jayde’s murder, or face 25 years in jail.
"Trashed the Constitution"
He said Siyoni gave two different versions of events to police. The second version was more detailed.
Panayiotou alleged the State provided this information to Siyoni.
"All evidence submitted based on Siyoni’s testimony should be ruled inadmissible."
He claimed police had assaulted Vumazonke and that this was never denied.
Panayiotou ended off his plea with hard-hitting words that the State had "trashed the Constitution" and brought the criminal justice system into disrepute.
No other plea explanations were read into the record.
The trial continues.