Jayde accused gains shackles

Sinethemba Nemembe
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

‘Hitman’ Nemembe appears in leg irons at trial

One of the men accused of murdering Jayde Panayiotou rocked up with a pair of shackles when he appeared in court this week, raising a few questions as to how he acquired the new accessory.

It has since emerged that Sinethemba Nemembe, 28, was sentenced in an unrelated housebreaking case during the four-month break in the Panayiotou trial, scoring himself a pair of leg irons to wear to court.

The suspected hitman, of Kwazakhele, shuffled between courtrooms at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday, first appearing in connection with the murder of an elderly Kunene Park woman, and later to stand trial for Jayde’s kidnapping and murder.

Today marks the second anniversary of the Uitenhage teacher’s death.

On April 5, Nemembe was sentenced in the Port Elizabeth Regional Court to eight years in prison for breaking into a house in Ernst van Heerden Crescent in Overbaakens on April 2014, almost exactly a year before Jayde’s murder.

Nemembe, who is always supported in court by his sister, comes across as soft-spoken and friendly.

But the state believes he has been involved in a string of violent crimes.

He stands accused alongside the now deceased Sizwezakhe Vumazonke of carrying out a hit on Jayde, 29, at the behest of her husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30, in April 2015.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Then, just five months later, it is alleged Nemembe murdered Marlene Webber, 78, after breaking into her Kunene Park home, this time allegedly working with Vumazonke’s younger relative, Thanduxolo Vumazonke.

Webber had been suffocated with a pillow.

Nemembe, Vumazonke and two other accused will stand trial for that matter in January next year.

It was while Nemembe was in custody for Webber’s murder that police used cellphone plotting to apparently link him to the Jayde’s death.

The state claims cellphone plotting placed him at the scene of the kidnapping in Kabega Park and later where she was shot dead in an open field in KwaNobuhle. Court records show that Nemembe faces an additional charge of robbery in East London, a matter which has not yet been finalised.

Further details of that case are not known.

Meanwhile, the Panayiotou case resumes today with a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of a recording obtained during a sting operation.

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