Ruling on vital Panayiotou video next month

Christopher Panayiotou and his co accused Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko
File picture: Eugene Coetzee

After a gruelling two weeks of testimony in a trial-within-a-trial, the court will give its ruling next month on whether or not to allow a video in which Christopher Panayiotou allegedly implicated himself in his wife’s murder, writes Kathryn Kimberley.

The video – an under- cover operation by the Hawks – allegedly shows Panayiotou, 30, searching self-con- fessed middleman Luthando Siyoni for a wire after Jayde’s murder and telling him “it became a kidnapping and a mur- der instead of just making it a rob- bery outside the house”.

The defence claims Siyoni was beatenandforcedtoimplicatehis former boss and wants the recor- ding to be ruled inadmissible.

The state is meanwhile relying heavily on this piece of evidence as it forms an integral part of its case.

Yesterday, the defence’s final witness in the trial-within-a-trial, Siyoni’s younger brother, Siyanda, said he had noticed his brother’s swollen face after his arrest in April 2015.

Shown a ripped pair of jeans, nowanexhibitbeforecourt,Siyan- da said Siyoni had been wearing the jeans the night police took him into custody.

Defence advocate Terry Price SC submitted that the jeans had been torn in the process of the assault.

Yesterday, Price closed his case but asked for more time to prepare his argument ahead of judgment

due to the voluminous record.

This is what the court heard from the state this week:

  • Magistrate Lionel Alexander saidhehadvisitedSiyoniinpro- tective custody and that he had never made mention of an assault or any injuries sustained. He said Siyoni’s complaints had mainly related to the food situa- tion at the Humewood police sta- tion;
  • Anne Swanepoel, who repre- sented now deceased suspected hitman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke be- fore she was struck from the roll of attorneys, said he had told her he was assaulted by the police. But her recollection of where the as- sault took place differed from the testimony already before court;

From the defence:

  • Price said the state was yet to prove a motive as to why Panayiotou would order a hit on Jayde;
  • He saidmuchofwhatthestate claimed in opposing the murder accused’s bail application had nev- er materialised and that many of the allegations against his client were made without first obtaining the so-called evidence under oath;
  • Swanepoel said Vumazonke – whom she represented several times in the past 15 years – always requested an attorney upon arrest and she was therefore surprised that the police now claimed he ini- tially waived his right to legal rep- resentation;
  • Optometrist Thys van Zyl said he had examined Siyoni’s girl- friend, Babalwa Breakfast, in November last year and found her to be severely short-sighted and unable to read a document held further than 20cm away. The de- fence 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.

The matter returns to court on June 17.

The state and defence were asked to submit written heads of argument before the end of May.

Leave a Reply