The legal fight over a video recording in which businessman Christopher Panayiotou allegedly implicates himself in his wife’s murder two years ago is set to continue today. The state will now call its next set of witnesses in the Port Elizabeth High Court, where the trial-within-a-trial resumes after a four-month break.
Police officials will testify about the steps followed when they conducted the sting operation.
State advocate Marius Stander has previously presented a transcribed copy of the recorded conversation to the bail court and told the court Panayiotou, 30, could be heard coaxing “middleman” Luthando Siyoni to destroy evidence.
After patting him down, seemingly for a wire, Panayiotou allegedly told Siyoni: “It became a kidnapping and a murder instead of just making it a robbery outside the house.”
He then allegedly encouraged Siyoni, 37, to go into hiding and to get rid of his phone and SIM card so police could not trace it.
Siyoni allegedly organised hitmen to kidnap and kill Jayde, 29, at the behest of Panayiotou.
While the recording is central to the state proving that Panayiotou orchestrated the kidnapping and murder almost two years ago, the defence claims Siyoni was beaten and forced to implicate the businessman, making the recording inadmissible.
In the trial-within-a-trial, Judge Dayalin Chetty must decide if the state followed the correct protocol in obtaining the sting video.
The same set of witnesses called to testify in the trial-within-a-trial may also be called once again in the main trial.
Jayde’s heartbreaking final moments were recalled in court between October and December last year. A blunt-force injury to the back of her head was consistent with her being pistol-whipped before being shoved into the boot of a rental car.
Then, in KwaNobuhle, a bullet to her back paralysed her before her killer stood over her and fired the fatal shot.
In a surprising turn of events Siyoni, a Section 204 witness, backtracked on his previous statements, denying any involvement in the Uitenhage teacher’s death.
He was ultimately declared a hostile witness.