'She loved him very, very much': Friend tells how 'lonely Jayde' would wait up for Christopher


Jayde Panayiotou used to stay up late at night, waiting for her husband Christopher to come home, her friend told the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. "She would say she was always alone," said Cherise Swanepoel, who was recalled to the stand by prosecutor Marius Stander in Christopher's trial for Jayde's murder.

Panayiotou's lawyer, Terry Price, had objected to Swanepoel being recalled so the State could delve deeper into claims that the young couple was having marital problems. Price insisted that the relationship between the two was good.

However, Swanepoel painted a poignant picture of a "physically lonely" woman.

Read more: This is how Jayde Panayiotou died

"I am aware that Chris would come home to eat supper before going back to work. I know that she was worried that he never got to see her dressed up.

"She would try stay up and not get changed into her pyjamas before he came home."

Long-term affair

Jayde also made excuses to pop into the OK Grocer, which the Panayiotou family owned, on the pretext of dropping something off, so that she could see more of him.

The court has heard that Christopher had been involved in a long-term affair with Chanelle Coutts, who worked with him at the OK Grocer.

"What was the reason for this loneliness?" asked Stander.

Read more: Childhood friend of Christopher Panayiotou’s ‘mistress’ makes shocking claims in court

Swanepoel simply replied: "Chris was always working."

After a short adjournment, Price pointed out that Swanepoel had previously said that Jayde was "not 100% happy".

"So she was not 100% unhappy either?" asked Price.

"I heard the phone calls between them on the phone. She would ask him to spend time with her," retorted Swanepoel.

She continued: "When Christopher Panayiotou asked me what to get her for her birthday, I told him just to spend time with her."

Jayde cried when Swanepoel told her about this.

Price asked her if she was aware that the Panayiotou family had just bought the OK Grocer and the Infinity night club, which needed work.

He asked about Christopher taking Jayde with him to China, Zanzibar, Cyprus and - just before she was killed - Cape Town.

Swanepoel said that Jayde had saved up for Cyprus, but as far as she knew, the trips to China and Zanzibar were for the supermarket.

Shot three times

However, Swanepoel agreed that Jayde was happy about the trips, and as for being happy at school, this was because teaching the children there made her happy.

Jayde was abducted on April 21 2015, while she waited for a lift to Van Riebeeck College in Uitenhage where she was a teacher.

Her body was found the next day in a field in KwaNobuhle. She had been shot three times - twice in the back and once in the head.

Panayiotou was arrested for allegedly orchestrating her murder. He allegedly asked a bouncer at his Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park, Luthando Siyoni, to hire a hitman to kill Jayde. Siyoni has since turned State witness.

Panayiotou and his co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde. They have pleaded not guilty.

The trial continues.


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