A faulty camera at a Nedbank ATM in KwaNobuhle sent police on the wrong track in their search for murdered school teacher Jayde Panayiotou.
Streicher Botha, an investigator with Protea Coin, which is contracted to Nedbank, told the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday that Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen contacted him on the morning of April 21 last year, to ask for his help in tracking down the missing wife of his friend.
Botha said he was informed by Eksteen that there was a withdrawal on Jayde’s account at 7:25am.
Botha went up the said ATM at around 9am to view footage of any withdrawals around that time.
He said Jayde’s anxious father, Derrick Inggs, was there. Christopher Panayiotou was not present.
“I usually start viewing the footage from five minutes before the time given to me, to five minutes after,” he told state advocate Marius Stander.
“But there were no transactions during that period.”
Botha said he suggested to the large police contingency that they view other ATMs in the area in case their information was incorrect.
At a second ATM close by, Botha managed to find footage of a person withdrawing cash at 7:25am. A screenshot of that person was circulated to police and later the public.
“Two days later, when it was confirmed that money was indeed withdrawn from Jayde’s account at the first ATM, I returned with another Nedbank client.”
Botha said after the client withdrew cash, he viewed the footage and discovered that the timing on the ATM camera was out by 20 minutes.
He then went back to the footage of April 21 and started viewing the recording from 7:05am that day.
“Movement could be seen at the ATM but due to the poor quality, I could not make out the person doing the withdrawal.”
Defence attorney Peter Daubermann questioned why Botha didn’t bother giving that footage – albeit unclear – to the police to investigate.
It is the state’s case that Sizwezakhe Vumazonke and Sinethemba Nemembe withdrew money from Jayde’s bank account shortly after her murder.
The state further claims that Panayiotou returned to his Infinity Cocktail Bar late that night to collect money to pay the alleged hitmen.
John Best, operational service manager at Atlas at the time, said the alarm was deactivated by user 001 at 23:25pm on April 21.
“The person was inside for one minute 15 seconds before exiting again and rearming,” said Best.
He said each user had a unique code and that user 001 was Panayiotou.
Advocate Terry Price meanwhile asked if it was possible someone else could have used Panayiotou’s code.
“Absolutely,” said Best. Price said on the morning of Jayde’s disappearance, when the state conceded Panayiotou was at home, someone used his security code to unlock the OK Grocer.