The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has gone after the money Christopher Panayiotou allegedly paid a former employee to take out a hit on his wife.
The state attorney wants this money, as well as the cash Panayiotou, 30, allegedly gave to the self-confessed middleman to disappear after the murder, forfeited.
AFU investigating officer Warrant Officer Clinton Brown said Luthando Siyoni, 36, was a lowly paid employee of Panayiotou’s and the only conceivable reason for his former boss to give him this amount of money – about R80 000 – was clearly to effect the hit on his wife, Jayde.
“The property was clearly proceeds or an instrumentality of a conspiracy to commit murder,” court papers before the Port Elizabeth High Court state.
When police arrested Siyoni shortly after Jayde’s murder in April 2015, they confiscated R31 300 in cash. At the time, Siyoni alleged this was his cut in the R80 000 Panayiotou paid him to organise hitmen to kidnap and kill his wife.
The remaining cash was allegedly paid over to now deceased suspected hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke.
The state claims further that Panayiotou then paid Siyoni a further R4 550 during a sting operation which is the subject of a trial-within-atrial.
Brown said Siyoni’s claim that Panayiotou had given him this R4 550 was confirmed by audio and video surveillance.
In the criminal matter yesterday, state advocate Marius Stander closed his case in the trial-within-a-trial, allowing the defence to call its first witness.
Anne Swanepoel, who represented Vumazonke before she was struck from the roll of attorneys, testified that Vumazonke had told her he was assaulted by the police.
She said when she visited Vumazonke in the cells in May 2015, shortly after his arrest, his eye was swollen shut and he could barely talk.
However, Vumazonke told her he had been assaulted at the Humewood Police Station and not at his place of arrest some 30km away, as the defence claimed.
The AFU, has meanwhile, asked for the R35 850 retrieved from Siyoni to be forfeited to the state.
“I point out that a conviction is not required for a forfeiture order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act,” now retired Eastern Cape deputy director of public prosecutions Advocate Willie Kingsley said.
“It is abundantly clear [Panayiotou] was involved in a conspiracy to murder his wife, a serious crime affecting the community’s well-being.”
In a separate statement, Captain Kanna Swanepoel said that while Siyoni had since deviated from what he had told police on his arrest, he still stood by the fact that he had received R80 000 from Panayiotou.
The application was postponed by agreement. Defence advocate Terry Price SC will call his next set of witnesses in the trial-within-a-trial today.