Defence in Jayde trial accuses arresting officer of lying
The dramatic details of alleged trigger-man Sizwezakhe Vumazonke’s arrest were revealed for the first time in court yesterday, with a policeman explaining how the murder accused hit his head on the door of a police van when he tried to resist.
While Constable Thapelo Mabija, of the SA Police Service Provincial Tracking Team in Zwelitsha, insisted that the thump must have caused his eye to swell shut, the defence was unconvinced, even accusing Mabija of being part of a police team that assaulted him.
Vumazonke, 36, died last month amid suspicions he had been poisoned.
He allegedly kidnapped and killed Jayde on April 21 last year at the behest of her husband, Christopher Panayiotou.
He is accused alongside Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko.
A photograph of Vumazonke as he appeared in court shortly after his May 3 arrest last year with a bruised and swollen eye was shown to Mabija. The policeman told the Port Elizabeth High Court he had received a call on April 30 last year, instructing him to come to Port Elizabeth to assist in an arrest.
He said his team travelled to the city, where they were briefed about the investigation and shown pictures of Vumazonke, as well as details of the vehicle he was travelling in.
Mabija and his team then travelled to Cape Town on information that Vumazonke was in that area visiting friends.
But they returned a day later, after a source informed them that a possibly armed and dangerous Vumazonke had been spotted in KwaNobuhle township near Uitenhage.
During the early hours of May 3, Mabija and three other officers went to a tavern in KwaNobuhle, where Vumazonke was drinking.
They waited for him to leave the tavern before arresting him at about 1.30am.
Mabija said Vumazonke tried to run when they identified themselves to him.
In the process of placing him in the police van and due to him resisting arrest, he sustained an injury to his eye. Vumazonke was taken to the Kabega Park police station at about 2am, when members of the Organised Crime Unit took over.
Mabija said he noted Vumazonke’s injury in his police pocket book, which had since gone missing.
But Advocate Terry Price SC said this was an excuse used by police far too often.
After Price demanded to see the pocket book and the alleged entry made, Mabija said he would make every effort to find it.
Price said Mabija was not telling the truth and that Vumazonke was taken to a Despatch police station before being booked into Kabega Park shortly before 6am.
He wanted to know what had happened to Vumazonke in that four-hour period and accused Mabija of lying and being part of a team that assaulted him.
In another development, Captain Gideon Olivier of the SAPS Ballistics Unit demonstrated how Jayde’s shooter must have fired the final bullet to her head.
Olivier, pointing his hand to the floor, said the barrel of the gun was held about 50cm from Jayde’s head when the shooter pulled the trigger.
Jayde’s family were not in court when Olivier was giving evidence.
The trial continues.