Investigator denies destroying evidence, taking short cuts
The man in charge of investigating Jayde Panayiotou’s murder held his own on the witness stand yesterday as he fended off allegations of taking shortcuts and destroying vital evidence.
The Port Elizabeth High Court was packed to capacity as the anticipated face-off between Captain Kanna Swanepoel and defence advocate Terry Price SC finally took place – almost two years after Panayiotou was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the murder of his wife. Price put it to Swanepoel that:
- He destroyed the consultation notes between self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni and his attorney at the time by flushing them down the loo;
- He tried to convince alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe and co-conspirator Zolani Sibeko to dump their lawyer and instead hire an attorney of Swanepoel’s choosing; and
- He wrote a statement and tried to force a disgruntled former employee of Panayiotou’s to sign it.
- Price also said state advocate Marius Stander had spoken to Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, in a derogatory manner.
But Swanepoel, who was testifying in a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of a sting video where the Port Elizabeth businessman allegedly implicated himself, said he had done everything by the book.
He had had a good relationship with Siyoni and initially trusted what he told him.
While Siyoni was in protective custody, he had fetched a blanket from his home to give to Siyoni because it was cold at the Humewood police station.
When Siyoni complained about not having a radio, he had given him his own radio to use.
“Everything he told me checked out when I followed up.
“For instance, he told me that after Panayiotou gave him money [after Jayde’s murder], he met with [now deceased alleged hitman] Sizwezakhe Vumazonke at a KFC. After viewing the KFC’s video footage, I saw that this was indeed so,” Swanepoel said.
Siyoni has since recanted on his confession, claiming police beat him and forced him to implicate his former boss.
Price said Siyoni had consulted with lawyer Ryno Scholtz while in protective custody and Swanepoel had later destroyed those consultation notes to protect the state’s case.
He said Swanepoel had bizarrely flushed them down the toilet at the police station.
After Swanepeol denied this, Price said he wanted the court to believe that everyone was a liar, except for him. He said it was also very strange that Siyoni had been given an attorney only after implicating Panayiotou and himself.
“By that stage, he was kneedeep in it, there was not much his lawyer could do,” Price said.
He also said that Swanepoel had denied Siyoni an attorney of his choosing.
Swanepoel said: “He told me he didn’t have money for a private attorney so we contacted Legal Aid SA.
“They appointed Mr [Johan] van der Spuy. He wasn’t just forced on Siyoni.”
Price countered that Siyoni had had the necessary funds.
“He didn’t even have money for a blanket,” Swanepoel said.
Price also said Swanepoel had approached a former employee of Panayiotou’s with a written statement and told her to sign it. She refused.
Swanepoel said he had merely wanted to know why she had been dismissed by Panayiotou.
He denied writing out a statement on her behalf.
He also said the allegation that he had interfered in Nemembe and Sibeko’s choice of legal representative was laughable.
Cross-examination continues tomorrow.
Swanepoel is the last state witness in the trial-within-a-trial.