Expert stands firm in Jayde case

Thereza Botha
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Analysis of cellphone records reveals what happened on day of murder, data investigator says 

The state’s data analyst has detailed what she believes happened on the day of Uitenhage teacher Jayde Panayiotou’s kidnapping and murder.

Relying solely on cellphone data, backed up by the GPS tracker on the rental vehicle allegedly used to carry out the hit on April 21 2015, Thereza Botha said suspected hitmen Sizwezakhe Vumazonke and Sinethemba Nemembe had been near the Panayiotous’ residence at the time of Jayde’s abduction.

Accused later yesterday by the defence of being biased, Botha, who has testified in multiple cases across the country, stuck to her guns.

At times, she laughed at accusations thrown at her by Advocate Terry Price SC, angering him further.

Botha said according to data supplied to her – which she had then spent months analysing – the rental vehicle had been switched on at Vumazonke’s KwaNobuhle home at 5.25am on April 21.

She said the vehicle – rented in his name – had then travelled to the home of co-accused Nemembe.

At 5.36am, Vumazonke’s handset made a call to a person saved on his phone as “Khusta”.

In alleged co-conspirator Zolani Sibeko’s bail application last year, the state claimed a man called Khusta Vandala had helped source the gun to kill Jayde, 29.

Botha said that at 6.13am Vumazonke’s phone had clocked in at the Linton Grange tower close to the Panayiotous’ Stellen Glen complex in Kabega Park.

Nemembe’s phone placed him in the same area as Vumazonke.

“Movement of the vehicle indicates that it circled the complex six or seven times,” Botha told state advocate Marius Stander.

At 6.27am, there was harsh braking and the vehicle then proceeded towards Uitenhage, eventually coming to a stop about 22m from where Jayde’s body was eventually found.

Botha said she had later been able to track the vehicle, as well as Vumazonke’s phone, to the various ATMs where he allegedly withdrew money from Jayde’s bank account.

Between 11am and 1.53pm, the phone of Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30, had received reception from the KwaNobuhle tower.

She said data showed that after 11pm, Panayiotou had gone to his family’s OK Grocer in Algoa Park, where he spent about 10 minutes.

While the state believes this was when Panayiotou fetched the remainder of the money to pay the alleged hitmen, the defence argued that he had merely gone to collect cooldrinks and snacks for the team involved in the search for Jayde.

Just before midnight, the handset of Panayiotou communicated with that of self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni. The phone call lasted about 39 seconds.

During cross-examination, Price said on Botha’s own evidence, the rental vehicle had scouted the area of Kabega Park.

“So this could have been a crime of opportunity?” he said.

Botha disagreed. “We know that details of Jayde’s vehicle were communicated,” she responded.

Price said further that, unfortunately, Vumazonke had since died.

“There is no direct evidence as to who grabbed Jayde and how many people were in the car,” he said.

Turning to the evidence that the handset of Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, was used to contact one of the men allegedly approached to kill Jayde, Price said there was no evidence they had actually spoken.

He said their expert would say that each call had gone to an automated voicemail on the handset believed to belong to “Trompie”.

“Whether the calls were successful or not, Trompie’s number was punched into the phone of Coutts,” Botha said.

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