Jayde Panayiotou’s hand clenched into a fist, abrasions where her rings were either pried off or her fingers slammed in the boot of the perpetrator’s car – these photographs shown to the court yesterday told a devastating story of the much-loved Uitenhage teacher’s final moments.
Her family sobbed and held onto each other as criminal expert Warrant Officer Phillip Bekker painted a picture of just how helpless the 29-year-old must have been.
“She had no defensive wounds,” he said.
Judge Dayalin Chetty had earlier warned the Port Elizabeth High Court that the graphic images and details of Jayde’s murder might upset the public gallery.
Jayde’s mother, Michelle, and younger sister, Toni, remained in court.
Commending the officers who worked on the crime scene near KwaNobuhle on the outskirts of Uitenhage, Bekker said he had investigated more than 8 500 scenes during his 17 years in the field.
He had been called out to the scene at about 11.15am on April 22 last year – a day after Jayde was shot dead.
“I just want to say the crime scene was very well managed by the police,” Bekker said.
“The scene was undisturbed on my arrival, only members of the K9 unit were active.”
He said a tyre track was visible on the dirt road, clearly marking where a vehicle had swerved to the side of the road.
“The track was lifted before the heavy wind set in but it was still not of a good enough quality for me to analyse,” Bekker told state advocate Marius Stander.
He said the vehicle had reversed, disturbing the original track.
A picture of Jayde’s body was brought up onto the overhead projector and Stander zoomed in on her injuries for Bekker to describe each wound.
Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30, accused of orchestrating her murder, stared at the screen, while his mother, Fanoula, wiped away a tear.
Panayiotou’s co-accused, Sinethemba Nemembe, 28, and Zolani Sibeko, 35, looked straight ahead.
It is alleged that Jayde was kidnapped from outside her Kabega Park home, shoved in the boot of the car and driven to an open field, where she was shot three times.
Bekker described how he found Jayde the day after her death – her left arm curled against her chest. Jayde’s clenched hand was indicative of the trauma she had experienced when she was shot in the back, he said.
While there were no rings on her fingers, a bracelet and watch were still on her arm.
“The cuts on her hands are likely from where rings were [forcibly] taken, or metal [a boot] closing in on her hand.”
The trial continues.