“It was Jayde’s greatest fear”


 Jayde’s sister Toni Inggs in court for Christopher Panayiotou's bail application earlier this year. Picture: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald.
Jayde’s sister Toni Inggs in court for Christopher Panayiotou’s bail application earlier this year. Picture: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald.


In an exclusive interview with Weekend Post, Jayde Panayiotou’s sister, Toni Inggs, tells Angela Daniels about Jayde’s  greatest fear, her anger towards Christopher and the family’s Justice for Jayde campaign. 

JAYDE Panayiotou’s greatest fear was having her home broken into or being taken by a stranger and hurt. And her husband Christopher knew this. His knowledge of her fears is what makes Jayde’s sister Toni Inggs so angry with the man alleged to have orchestrated her abduction and murder on April 21 this year.

It is also the driving force behind a campaign she and a friend have started to ensure that Jayde gets justice and people do not forget the wonderful woman she was – a woman who, Inggs says, “didn’t have a bad bone and was dynamite in a small package”.

“Her [Jayde’s] biggest fear was being taken by people and hurt or having someone break in, and he did that to her,” Inggs said in an interview earlier this week. She said she wished Panayiotou would have to face his greatest fear – a fear that he has spoken to her about, but which she did not want to divulge.

Inggs knows Panayiotou’s deepest fears as he is a man she adored, first as her sister’s boyfriend and later as her brotherin-law. “We knew him for 11 years. For 11 years he was lovable. He was part of our family.”

This, Inggs says, is also why, following her sister’s abduction and murder, she could not bring herself to consider that he might have been involved.

She vehemently defended her former brother-in-law when people started voicing their beliefs that he had not acted like a grieving husband.

“He didn’t show a lot of emotion but some people are like that,” Inggs said, adding that he had spoken to her about what people were saying about him on social media.

“We sat at the kitchen table at my parents’ house and he asked me if I had seen what people were saying about him. At first I felt more sorry for him than I even did for my own family. I was up all night with him, comforting him.”

Panayiotou was very aware of what was being said on Facebook and in retrospect, Inggs says, she could see his behaviour was not normal.

“He was on Facebook all the time when we were looking for Jayde but he never posted anything asking for people to help find her. Only after she was found did he change his profile picture to a photo of the two of them.”

It is clear that Inggs views Panayiotou’s behaviour after the family learnt of Jayde’s murder as highly manipulative.

“He’s such a narcissist. I looked it up after [his arrest] and he has all the signs. He was always saying how hard he worked, how tired he was, always wanting sympathy and wanting people to admire him.”

Slowly Inggs started to believe that Panayiotou may well have had a role to play in her sister’s murder and it is this belief that has her determined to see justice done. This happened, she says, as more and more evidence allegedly implicating him came to the fore.

She then also remembered that Panayiotou had constantly moaned about how tired he was as the search for Jayde took place. The memory angers Inggs, as does the memory of first coming face to face with alleged triggerman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke at court.

“He looked me in my face and started laughing. Not even an animal acts like that,” Inggs says, her eyes flashing with anger.

When asked what Justice for Jayde meant to her, Inggs said: “I want all three of them never to get out [of jail],” referring to Panayiotou and his two co-accused, Vumazonke and alleged middleman Thando Siyoli.

Inggs is pragmatic about what will happen with the case and knows Siyoli is likely to be given a plea deal that will see any sentence for him greatly reduced.

“At least if those two [Panayiotou and Vumazonke] don’t get out. I know Thando will take a deal,” she says. “I would want the death penalty for them. But that won’t happen.”

As Inggs speaks of the three men allegedly involved in her sister’s murder a red flush starts creeping up her neck. She’s aware of it; it’s something that happens to her when she gets upset, she says.

Inggs is otherwise the epitome of strength.

“It’s never going to be easy. Nothing will ever bring my sister back but at least if justice is served it will be a little better.”

Starting a campaign to keep Jayde’s memory alive is also helping, she says. “I haven’t really mourned my sister. For now, I am using my anger to try to get justice for Jayde.”

“When this is all over, even if it takes two to three years to get justice . . . and I think it will, then I will mourn.”

Until then, Inggs intends to be at court every time Panayiotou and his co-accused appear, wearing a Justice for Jayde T-shirt and making her presence felt.

She will watch as the trial unfolds but firmly believes Panayiotou was involved in the murder.

“If he was innocent he would be reaching out to us. He would say to my parents, ‘Mom and Dad’. . . he called them that. . . ‘I didn’t do this.’ But he can’t even look at us.”

When the conversation turns to Panyiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, a number of emotions flash across Inggs’s pretty face.

She starts talking about Coutts and then stops herself, saying only, “I will not talk about her. All I will say is she has a cheek telling ‘her story’. What is her story? This is not about her.

“It’s also a cheek to mention Jayde’s name so casually after. . .” she trails off when recalling an article published in You magazine in which Coutts defends Panayiotou and talked about having liked Jayde.

“One day I will say more about that,” Inggs says, “but not today.”

anayiotou, who was denied bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on June 5, will appeal the decision in the Grahamstown High Court on July 20. He and his two co-accused will appear in court again on August 13.

– Angela Daniels

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