‘Find Panayiotou guilty of murder’

The state has presented its closing argument, asking for the suspects in the Jayde Panayiotou murder to be found guilty
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

State sums up case against Jayde’s husband, co-accused

Jayde Panayiotou’s murder was a contract killing and her husband’s involvement was proven by a secret video recording that took place just days later, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard yesterday.

Summarising 60 days of testimony in which 58 state witnesses were called, prosecutor Marius Stander asked Judge Dayalin Chetty to convict businessman Christopher Panayiotou, 30, of murder.

He said the damning footage of self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni seemingly discussing Jayde’s murder with Panayiotou in a car park had never been challenged by the defence.

The only issue raised throughout the trial was the fact that Siyoni had allegedly been beaten and did not participate in the sting voluntarily.

“It is my respectful submission that all the findings I have asked this court to make are supported by this meeting,” Stander said.

The court was packed yesterday, with curious members of the public seated on the floor.

Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, once again caused a stir when she sat with the Panayiotou family and listened to proceedings.

Advocate Terry Price SC, representing Panayiotou, and attorney Peter Daubermann, for alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe and co-conspirator Zolani Sibeko, will deliver their closing arguments on Tuesday.

Thereafter, Chetty is expected to deliver a verdict.

Stander yesterday called for all three accused to be convicted of murder, with Nemembe to be found guilty on an additional charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Jayde, 29, was kidnapped outside her Kabega Park home on April 21 2015 and driven to a bushy area in KwaNobuhle, where she was executed.

Jayde Panayiotou
Picture: Supplied

Stander conceded that there was not enough evidence to prove which of the accused had pulled the trigger.

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke was initially charged as one of the hitmen, but died before the trial got under way.

“It is my respectful submission that once the court has found that Vumazonke was involved in the kidnapping and murder, and then further finds that Siyoni in fact recruited Vumazonke, the remainder of the state’s case is much simpler than originally anticipated,” Stander said.

He said the whole process could be traced back to a Facebook message on April 1 2015, in which Siyoni discussed payment of R40 000 with Vumazonke. He said this had prompted a frantic communication between the two.

Thereafter, Vumazonke hired a rental vehicle, which was allegedly used to scout Jayde’s residence and her route to work.

Stander said the alleged hitmen would only have known Jayde’s particulars – such as her car registration number, what time she left for work and the address of her close friend, Cherise Swanepoel, with whom she carpooled – through her husband.

Then, shortly after Jayde went missing – at 11am on April 21 – Infinity Cocktail Bar employee Noxolo Sokuta testified that Siyoni had arrived there looking for Panayiotou.

He had allegedly asked Sokuta if their boss had left any money for him.

Later that night, as the search for Jayde continued, Panayiotou said he fetched Siyoni from his home to point out various ATMs in Kwazakhele.

“It is my submission that this was merely a smokescreen for him to make payment to Siyoni,” Stander said.

“The state will argue that the events up to the point of the arrest of Panayiotou point to a contract killing.

“This contract killing consists of three stages, to wit the preparation, execution and cover-up.”

Stander said when Panayiotou met Siyoni in a car park on April 29, he had told him to destroy the SIM card used to contact him.

“It is further the undisputed evidence that at no stage did Panayiotou inform the police of his meeting with Siyoni.”

Nemembe and Sibeko were linked to the offence through cellphone plotting.

“Vumazonke, through SMSes, made reference to other people who helped him [carry out the hit]. The court must find that the guys who helped him were Nemembe and Sibeko.”

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