Jayde accused in bail bid

Zolani Sibeko Picture: Eugene Coetzee
Zolani Sibeko
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

State has no evidence against him, says alleged co-conspirator Sibeko

A man accused of conspiring to kidnap and kill Jayde Panayiotou will apply for bail next week after not a single shred of evidence has emerged against him in the eight weeks of trial so far.

Zolani Sibeko, 35, said in a detailed affidavit filed with the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday that the prosecution had called numerous witnesses to date, but not one had implicated him in any way. He will apply for bail on Tuesday. “On the state’s own case, I played no role in the carrying out of the [kidnapping and murder],” he said in support of his bail application.

The prosecution claims Sibeko accompanied the alleged hitmen to Jayde’s Kabega Park home, and the home of her friend, Cherise Swanepoel, on April 15 and 16 last year.

Jayde, 29, was shot dead on April 21, but cellphone tower plotting does not place Sibeko at the crime scene.

Sibeko, who hides his face at every court appearance, has kept a low profile, with few personal details emerging in the media.

Save for pleading not guilty to the charges, he has not yet revealed what his defence will be.

Yesterday, the trial was postponed to April.

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann, who also represents alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe, said he had perused the docket setting out the state’s case and there was no evidence implicating his client.

Daubermann said conspiracy required an agreement by two or more accused to commit a criminal act – and mere intention was insufficient.

The state claims Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30, ordered her kidnapping and murder because he saw her as a financial burden.

Sibeko was the last to be arrested in connection with the Uitenhage teacher’s murder and has been in custody since July 17.

While he has no previous convictions or pending cases, this is his first attempt at bail.

Sibeko said he lived with his parents near St Albans Prison, where it is understood at least one of them was employed. “I intend and undertake to stand trial as I believe that I have a good defence and do not fear being convicted,” he said.

“In seeking to prove the allegations against me, the state relies exclusively on a so-called tracker report by analyst Thereza Botha.”

Botha states in her report that she has 15 years’ experience analysing criminal data.

“She is clearly not a cellphone expert,” he said.

“The mere fact that on the state’s case Vumazonke and I communicated with each other per cellphone on 14 and 15 April does not prove we conspired to kill [Jayde].

“I will probably be acquitted.”

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