Magistrates will have vital testimony, writes Kathryn Kimberley
A magistrate who visited “middleman” Luthando Siyoni after his arrest, has claimed he confessed to her about his alleged involvement in Jayde Panayiotou’s murder.
The state said they planned to lead the evidence of two magistrates who visited Siyoni while he was held in protective custody at the Humewood police station.
The notion angered the defence on Friday, who said this statement was in no way admissible.
While Siyoni, 37, has since recanted on his confession, claiming he was assaulted and forced to implicate Christopher Panayiotou, the state believes he assisted the businessman to find hitmen to kidnap and kill his wife.
Friday marked two years since the pretty schoolteacher’s murder,making it particularly emotional for her mother and sister, who sat at the back of the Port Elizabeth High Court while testimony was heard in a trial-within-a-trial.
Friday, Warrant Officer Shane Bosch of the Organised Crime Unit said he had followed Siyoni to the Engen garage in Algoa Park on April 29 2015, where he had arranged to meet a reluctant Panayiotou, 30.
From the Steers on the premises he watched as Panayiotou, driving a silver Ford Fiesta, circled the petrol pumps three times before stopping and then climbing out of the vehicle. He then climbed into Siyoni’s parked car, which had been fitted with hidden cameras.
It is the conversation that took place in this vehicle, in which Panayiotou allegedly implicated himself, that remains the subject of a trial- within-a-trial, with the court still to rule on its admissibility.
“After some time, [Panayiotou] climbed out of the vehicle and we followed [Siyoni] back to our offices,” Bosch told state advocate Marius Stander. There, Siyoni handed over the wad of cash Panayiotou had allegedly given him.
The police officials then viewed the recording and arrested Panayiotou at his parents’ home later that night.
Defence advocate Terry Price SC objected that Stander was skirting dangerously close to the sting operation. “He is itching to get into that vehicle,” he said. Price also wanted to know exactly what the state’s version was. “Is the state claiming Siyoni did not sustain any injuries? [Stander] needs to stand up and tell us now”.
Judge Dayalin Chetty responded that the state had already placed on record that Siyoni had an injury to his left eye. Price said he was concerned that his objections were not being heard by the court.
“I am getting tired of objecting because my objections are getting nowhere. “Are there two parties in this court or just one?” he asked Judge Chetty.
Bosch said that they had arrested Panayiotou without first obtaining a warrant because he had a Cypriot passport and they were scared he might flee.
Later on Friday, Price said he would object to the evidence of one of the magistrates Stander intended to call because she had now claimed in a statement that Siyoni had confessed to her about Jayde’s murder.
Stander retorted that they could cross that bridge when they got there, to which Price retorted: “There shouldn’t be a bridge at all.” The case continues on tomorrow.