Court told how victim doted on the love of her life
Jayde Panayiotou loved her husband – the man accused of having her killed – more than life itself. Jayde’s sister, Toni Inggs, 27, said if there was even a slight chance Christopher Panayiotou, 30, would slip away from work on a Saturday to have lunch with her, Jayde would give up a weekend on her parents’ farm and instead spend the time waiting around for him.
And as the 29-year-old’s feisty sister faced off with Panayiotou’s advocate in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday, months of anguish and tension between the two came to the fore.
“I have huge sympathy for you. You suffered a horrendous loss, but you are now forcing me to go where I did not want to go,” Advocate Terry Price SC said. Asked by Price why she had treated Panayiotou’s parents and his legal team with such hatred, apparently calling Price a “pig” on social media, Inggs responded that the Panayiotou family had shown no remorse or compassion and instead treated the Inggs family as if they were the enemy.
Addressing her apparent dislike for Price, Inggs said to applause from the gallery: “Excuse the language I am about to use, but in court you [Price] called me f***ing stupid.”
She added: “I am angry 90% of the time. My sister has been murdered and I have a right to fight for justice for her.”
Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating his wife’s murder by organising two men to kidnap her from outside their Kabega Park home.
She was driven to an open field near KwaNobuhle, where she was shot three times.
Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nemembe, 28, and Zolani Sibeko, 35, have pleaded not guilty to the murder.
Inggs sobbed as state advocate Marius Stander asked about her relationship with her brother-in-law prior to his arrest for murder, causing the court to adjourn for her to compose herself. “I loved him like a brother,” Inggs responded later.
Unable to contain her emotions, Jayde’s mother, Michelle Inggs, walked out of court.
Inggs said that “sadly” she often took Panayiotou’s side when Jayde complained about his long working hours.
“I told my sister that he was working to provide for their family and that things would get better.”
Inggs said she was unaware of Panayiotou’s affair with a co-worker, but that he behaved suspiciously or secretively at times.
“He was secretive over his cellphone. Jayde was basically forbidden from touching it.”
Inggs said she had been visiting Panayiotou and her sister when Jayde was cleaning and accidentally moved Panayiotou’s phone.
“He grabbed it from her,” Inggs said, as, at times, Panayiotou scribbled notes and passed them on to his lawyers, refuting Inggs’s testimony.
Price said Inggs was not being truthful.
Inggs explained that Jayde’s happy place was at the family’s farm near Uitenhage.
“She would spend most weekends with us on the farm while Chris worked. But if there was even a slight chance he would see her for a quick lunch or something, she would not come out to the farm.
“Jayde was happy when she was with her husband. She loved him more than life itself.”
Inggs said she communicated mostly with her older sister in the evenings, when Jayde was at home alone. She went to sleep before Panayiotou returned from work. “They lived separate lives.” Inggs said she found a letter in which Jayde penned her unhappiness in a dressing-table drawer after her death.
“All I have ever wanted is to be loved,” Inggs said, reading her sister’s emotional letter to the court.
“I am jealous when I see people living the life I so desperately long for.
“I don’t know if I can live this life. I don’t know how much more I can take,” Jayde wrote in the September before her death.
Inggs said Jayde had been worried that she and Panayiotou would not be able to afford the R2.2-million house they had just purchased in Lovemore Park.
Earlier in the day, Jayde’s close friend and colleague at Riebeek College, Cherise Swanepoel, broke down as she was asked if she knew Panayiotou.
Swanepoel, the first state witness to be called, said she had met the murder accused when they were just eight or nine years old.
Swanepoel was the last person to communicate with Jayde prior to her murder on April 21 last year.
It was Swanepoel’s week to collect Jayde from her Stellen Glen home and drive to school. The two shared a lift club.
“I would send her a text when I left home and she would wait outside the complex,” Swanepoel said.
At 6.20am on April 21, Swanepoel sent Jayde a message to say she was stopping for fuel.
“I offered to drive straight into the complex as it was drizzling. But she responded that she would wait outside.”
At 6.24am, Swanepoel sent another message to say she was on her way.
At 6.33am, she again messaged to say she had arrived at Stellen Glen. The message was never delivered.
“I waited a while and then tried to phone Jayde. Her phone was off.”
Thinking something was wrong with Jayde’s cellphone, Swanepoel called the Panayiotou couple’s landline number, and later Christopher’s cellphone.
“I asked him where Jayde was and he said, ‘What do you mean? She has gone to work’.”
Panayiotou let her into the complex and the two drove around, frantically looking for Jayde.
They spotted a police van and informed the officers what had happened.
Later, movement on Jayde’s bank account resulted in Swanepoel and Panayiotou driving to Njoli Square.
Asked if Panayiotou seemed concerned that Jayde was missing, Swanepoel said: “He was very determined to find her.”
Price said Panayiotou had warned Jayde to wait for her lift behind the complex gate as people were often hanging around the area looking for work.
Uitenhage physician Dr Bruce du Plessis testified that he had treated the Inggs family for well over 20 years.
On May 8 2014, Jayde came to see him at his surgery.
“She told me she is depressed and can’t cope.”
Du Plessis said he wrote her a sixmonth script for an antidepressant.
The last time he saw her was on April 16 last year, just five days before her death, when she asked for the script to be renewed.
Rachel Windvogel, a resident on a farm near KwaNobuhle, close to where Jayde was shot dead, said she had heard three gunshots in close succession shortly before 7am on April 21.
“I grew up on a farm so I know what gunshots sound like,” she said.
Afterwards, she heard a car speed off towards the township.
Windvogel said she had reported what she had heard to her niece, who works at the Kabega Park police station.
The trial continues today.