Banker denies helping Panayiotou on day Jayde disappeared

Defence attorney Alwyn Griebenow, left, and Advocate Terry Price, centre, discuss the case with Christopher Panayiotou's family Picture: Riaan Marais
Defence attorney Alwyn Griebenow, left, and Advocate Terry Price, centre, discuss the case with Christopher Panayiotou’s family
Picture: Riaan Marais

A banker has denied telling Christopher Panayiotou where money was being withdrawn from his murdered wife’s bank account, despite his knowledge very early on.

While Panayiotou insists Nedbank account manager Estelle Burger supplied him with information to find out where Jayde’s kidnappers were accessing her account, she denied being the one who helped him.

Burger said even a family friend of the Panayiotous – also a banker at some stage – had contacted her on the night of April 21 last year in an attempt to persuade her to do so.

At some point, Panayiotou, 30, who is accused of orchestrating 29-year-old Jayde’s murder, got hold of the information.

Defence advocate Terry Price SC said Panayiotou – should he testify at a later stage – would tell the court that he had the profile and password information to access Jayde’s internet banking account, but that the Nedbank system only indicated movement of cash, not specifically where the movement was taking place.

Yet, shortly after Jayde’s close friend, Cherise Swanepoel, informed Panayiotou that she feared Jayde was missing, Panayiotou indicated that money had been withdrawn from her account in KwaNobuhle.

Earlier yesterday, Streicher Botha, an investigator with Protea Coin, which is contracted to Nedbank, said that on April 21 Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen had phoned him to say his friend’s wife had gone missing.

Botha said Eksteen had told him money had been withdrawn from Jayde’s bank account at a Nedbank ATM in KwaNobuhle.

Eksteen was at the time a close friend of the Panayiotous.

Burger, meanwhile, said she had not been the one who assisted Panayiotou because he did not have signing power on Jayde’s account.

A total of 14 calls were made between Panayiotou and Burger that day.

“I didn’t have access to the system in order to help him. That night I received a call [from [Phillip Vosloo] requesting my assistance,” she said.

“I told him I was not authorised to do that.”

Price said: “You will appreciate that day was different. Jayde was missing and money was being withdrawn from her account.

“Chris will tell this court, if he testifies, that he was trying to persuade you to give that information so he could find Jayde.

“As a banker you will appreciate one needs to follow the money.

“Eventually when he got through to you, you assisted him.”

Price said Burger was only denying this to avoid getting into trouble with the bank.

John Best, operational service manager at Atlas Security at the time, said the Infinity Cocktail Bar alarm had been deactivated by user 001 at 11.25pm on April 21.

“The person was inside for one minute 15 seconds before exiting again and rearming,” Best said.

He said each user had a unique code and that user 001 was Panayiotou.

The state claims this was when Panayiotou returned to the Algoa Park bar to collect money to pay the alleged hitmen.

The trial continues.

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