The Panayiotou murder trial was delayed yesterday with the lawyer for the alleged hitmen challenging the way in which the state opted to present its cellphone evidence, calling the prosecution’s tactics unconstitutional.
State advocate Marius Stander wanted the Port Elizabeth High Court to receive the evidence in terms of Section 15(4) of the Electronics Communications and Transactions Act, which shifts the onus onto the accused to prove the information is incorrect.
Peter Daubermann argued that his clients – alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe and coconspirator Zolani Sibeko – would be severely prejudiced should the court accept the evidence in this manner.
Daubermann says the state should bear the onus to prove the information is 100% correct.
The state is relying heavily on cellphone records and plotting to prove its case against Nemembe and Sibeko.
Up until now, the focus has predominantly been on Port Elizabeth businessman Christopher Panayiotou, 30.
It is alleged Panayiotou hired hitmen to kidnap and kill his wife, Jayde, 29, on April 21 2015.
On Wednesday, after the court viewed an incriminating secret video recording between Panayiotou and “middleman” Luthando Siyoni, the prosecution’s focus shifted to Nemembe and Sibeko.
Stander says he plans to call experts from service providers MTN and Vodacom, as well as national cellphone sleuth Thereza May Botha.
Their evidence, he hopes, will paint a picture of how surveillance of Jayde’s whereabouts was carried out, and ultimately the events on the day that she was murdered. Stander said cellphone evidence placed Nemembe and now deceased alleged hitman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke at the place where Jayde was executed.
Daubermann, meanwhile, said yesterday that the defence did not have access to the equipment used to put the cellphone evidence together and therefore it would be difficult for them to prove that the records were incorrect.
Judge Dayalin Chetty will give his ruling on Monday.