‘Middleman’ Siyoni in rant about state witness status

Marius Stander Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
Marius Stander
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni left everyone with “a lot to digest” – as Judge Dayalin Chetty put it – when he went on a 10-minute rant yesterday about how he had advised the prosecution to revoke his Section 204 status before taking the stand.

State advocate Marius Stander had earlier, with the court’s permission, started to discredit Siyoni, 36, who initially confessed to police about his alleged involvement in Uitenhage teacher Jayde Panayiotou’s murder last year. Siyoni claimed shortly after her kidnapping and murder on April 21 last year that he had found a hitman at the behest of her husband, Christopher, 30.

But he did an about-turn, telling the Port Elizabeth High Court this week that he was beaten by police and forced to implicate himself and his former boss.

He said that while he had become aware of the murder plot much later on, when alleged triggerman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 36, told him Panayiotou had hired him to murder his wife, he now denied playing any part in orchestrating of the hit.

Stander, irritated when he was forced constantly to repeat his questions, went through Siyoni’s confession one line at a time.

Siyoni denied telling police how the hit was set up and said that he had merely signed the confession put in front of him.

He now risks losing the immunity granted for his testimony.

After Stander began discrediting him, the bouncer went off on a tangent, claiming that Stander and investigating officer Captain Kanna Swanepoel were well aware that he “wanted to tell the truth”.

If there is any truth in Siyoni’s claims, Stander cannot discredit him as a witness.

Chetty called it doubtful that Stander had known that his own witness wanted to deviate from his statement.

Siyoni said he had also informed Stander and Swanepoel that he was assaulted by police.

The trial continues today.

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