‘Lost’ pocket books irk defence counsel

BACK IN THE DOCK: Murder accused, from left, Christopher Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko in the dock at the resumption of their trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Advocate accuses cop of misleading court as Jayde case resumes

A string of policemen who probed Uitenhage school teacher Jayde Panayiotou’s murder have testified to how they “lost” their pocket books after jotting down important details – but the excuses were elevated to another level yesterday when one cop said his diary went missing during a car crash.

Sergeant Mncedi Gcukumana’s claim failed to impress the defence, with Advocate Terry Price SC accusing him of misleading the court.

Gcukumana was with Colonel Willie Mayi when he took “middleman” Luthando Siyoni in for questioning on April 27 2015 in connection with Jayde’s murder.

Gcukumana was testifying in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday, where a trial-within-a-trial resumed after a four-month break.

The trial-within-a-trial was called to deal with the admissibility of a video recording, in which Christopher Panayiotou, 30, allegedly implicated himself in his wife’s murder.

It is alleged the businessman approached Siyoni to find hitmen to kidnap and kill Jayde, 29, on April 21 2015.

While Siyoni initially admitted his involvement and turned state witness, he has since recanted, claiming police assaulted him and forced him to implicate Panayiotou.

Gcukumana said he had been with Mayi in Alice when he received a tip-off about the murder.

They travelled back to Port Elizabeth to meet the informant, who led them to Siyoni and his girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast.

Gcukumana said they first tracked down Breakfast, who led them to Panayiotou’s Infinity night club in Algoa Park, where Siyoni was working as a bouncer.

He said he waited in the car with Breakfast while Mayi and some other officers went inside the club to take Siyoni in for questioning. They then proceeded to Uitenhage. Gcukumana said Breakfast travelled in his vehicle at all times and was not intimidated to make a statement.

“After a while, Colonel Mayi read Siyoni his rights and told him that he was arresting him for murder,” Gcukumana said.

While there had been a struggle when Siyoni was cuffed, he had not seen him sustain any injuries.

But, referring to Gcukumana’s statement, Price said he had initially claimed that Siyoni sustained a scratch above his left eye during the scuffle.

Gcukumana replied that he had not actually seen this take place and might have made a mistake because his statement was taken down in English, which is his second language.

Turning then to his pocket book where he should have noted any possible injury, Gcukumana said he lost It in November when he and his partner were involved in a car accident.

But Price countered that even before this, they had been informed by state advocate Marius Stander that Gcukumana did not have a pocket book.

“I initially told Mr Stander that I didn’t have a pocket book but I later found it,” Gcukumana said. He then lost it again in the crash. Price put it to Gcukumana that there was nothing in his pocket book and that was why he now claimed it was missing.

“Like all your friends so far, your pocket book is gone,” he said.

The trial continues tomorrow.
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