Panayiotou defence claims Siyoni’s clothing ripped during alleged police assault
A scruffy pair of jeans belonging to middleman Luthando Siyoni became an exhibit in the Panayiotou murder trial yesterday, with the defence adamant that the jeans were ripped while Siyoni was being assaulted by police.
State advocate Marius Stander, on the other hand, was not convinced and questioned what he felt looked like old tears in comparison to new tears on the blue jeans.
He then questioned how Siyoni’s mother, Thembisa, could remember what jeans her son was wearing when he was arrested two years ago, but not what top he had on.
Indications are that the trial-within-a-trial called to determine the admissibility of a sting recording in which Christopher Panayiotou, 30, allegedly implicated himself in his wife Jayde’s murder will be wrapped up today.
Testifying for the defence, Thembisa told the Port Elizabeth High Court she saw her son before and after his arrest in April 2015.
When police brought him back to his house to look for “something”, she noticed he had a swollen right eye and a cut on his lower lip.
Similarly, the mother of his girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, said when she saw Siyoni that same night he had a swollen right eye and a cut lip. He apparently told her that he had been assaulted by police.
Stander said the evidence before court all along was that it was Siyoni’s left eye which was swollen due to the alleged police assault.
He put it to Thembisa that she claimed her son was wearing that pair of jeans when he was arrested because that is what he told her to say.
Siyoni had told the court when he testified last year that police beat him so badly – to implicate Panayiotou – that they tore his jeans in the process.
Thembisa said she met Stander and some policemen before her son took the stand and they told her Siyoni had a decision to make – to become a free man or face 25 years in prison – but it depended on what he told the court.
Also testifying yesterday, optometrist Thys van Zyl said he examined Breakfast in November last year at the request of Advocate Terry Price SC.
He found Breakfast to be severely short-sighted and that she was unable to read a document held further than 20cm away.
The defence previously alleged that Breakfast would have been unable to read her own statement – as claimed by the police – because she was, in fact, legally blind.
Siyoni became a Section 204 witness after he told police that his former boss paid him to find hitmen to kidnap and murder Jayde, 29.
He has since backtracked on his confession.
The trial continues today.