Defence quizzes top cop over injuries to accused

Warrant Officer Johannes Botes testified about the rental car used in Jayde Panayiotou's murder Picture: Eugene Coetzee
Warrant Officer Johannes Botes 
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Details of how swollen eye occurred and arrest procedure raised

Cross-examination left a top Port Elizabeth cop a little tongue-tied yesterday as he tried to recall crucial events surrounding the arrests of Luthando Siyoni and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke more than a year ago.

Warrant Officer Johannes Botes, who formed part of a task team investigating the murder of teacher Jayde Panayiotou, 29, was questioned by the defence over two incorrect entries in the police occurrence books.

Botes, of the Mount Road Vehicle Theft Unit, had told the Port Elizabeth High Court earlier that the state’s Section 204 witness, Siyoni, was booked out of the Kabega Park police station cells on April 29 and taken to a garage in Algoa Park.

That is where he took part in a sting operation which led to the arrest of Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou.

Later, Botes returned Siyoni to his cell and noted in the occurrence book that the suspect had no visible injuries, despite his already-swollen eye.

Then, with regard to his dealings with Vumazonke, Botes said he saw

the now-deceased alleged triggerman shortly after his arrest at 3am on May 3. He observed Vumazonke had a swollen right eye.

After telling the charge officer how Vumazonke had sustained the injury, the policeman incorrectly jotted down that Vumazonke had bumped his head on the door of the police van.

Botes told the court that the injury had, in fact, been sustained when Vumazonke bumped his head on the door of his own car – a rented VW

Polo – as police attempted to remove him from the vehicle and arrest him.

Quizzed by defence attorney Peter Daubermann why he had then signed off on the incorrect version, Botes said it was human error.

“We had been working long hours and I made a mistake,” he said. He thought it would be corrected. Daubermann further wanted to know why Botes had said Siyoni had no injuries when he had earlier said the self-confessed middleman had a swollen eye on arrest – an injury similar to Vumazonke’s.

“What I meant was that he had no new injuries,” Botes said.

Not satisfied, Daubermann said anyone reading what was written would interpret it to mean that Siyoni never had any injuries.

Asked by Panayiotou’s advocate, Terry Price SC, about the official charging of Vumazonke, Botes said he was present when Captain Willie Mayi read him his rights.

“What language did Mayi and Vumazonke converse in?” Price asked. “They spoke in Xhosa,” Botes said. Botes said that he only saw Mayi fill in the notice of rights.

Price countered by placing the notice of rights before court.

He said Mayi had noted that the rights were completed in English.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko have pleaded not guilty to charges which include conspiracy to commit murder.

The trial continues today.

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