Defence closes its case in Panayiotou trial

Christopher Panayiotou seated alongside co-accused Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Months of testimony in the Panayiotou murder trial finally came to an end on Tuesday when the defence closed its case amid high tensions in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

The presence of Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, seated next to the murder accused’s family had upset the Inggs family, with Jayde’s mom, Michelle Inggs, fighting to hold back tears as she rushed out of the court.

Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts (second from left) seated with the Panayiotou family in court
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Meanwhile, state advocate Marius Stander was put on the spot when he was forced to cross-examine his boss, deputy director of public prosecutions (DDPP) in Port Elizabeth, advocate Indra Goberdan.

Goberdan was surprisingly called as a defence witness and confirmed the version of DDPP in Grahamstown, advocate Selvan Gounden, that she only became aware of a sting operation in which Panayiotou seemingly implicated himself in his wife’s murder after the recording had already been made.

Goberdan, however, said in this instance, Section 252(a) authorisation was not needed.

Panayiotou, 30, was arrested in May 2015, after police recorded a conversation between himself and self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni, where they seemingly discussed Jayde’s murder.

The teacher was kidnapped and killed on April 21 that year, allegedly at the behest of her husband.

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann, for alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe and co-conspirator Zolani Sibeko, closed his case without calling any witnesses.

The state will deliver its final arguments on Thursday next week, with the defence then expected to respond the following day.

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