Court proceedings in the Panayiotou murder trial were stalled until Thursday morning, when the state’s Section 204 witness, Luthando Siyoni, will become the first to take the stand in a trial-within-a-trial regarding the admissibility of his evidence.
Siyoni spent most of Wednesday in consultation with his attorney Zolile Ngqeza and state advocate Marius Stander before being warned by Judge Dayalin Chetty to be ready to take the stand at 9am on Thursday.
The surprise arrival at the Port Elizabeth High Court of murder accused Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress Chanelle Coutts earlier on Wednesday, also upset Jayde Panayiotou’s family.
Coutts, wearing her OK Grocer uniform and carrying a Polo handbag, spent several hours in another closed room with the investigating team and lawyer Danie Gouws.
The state alleges that Panayiotou, 30, – who admitted to having an affair with Coutts – paid Siyoni to hire hitmen to kidnap and murder Jayde, 29, on April 21 last year.
The court earlier heard how Panayiotou had bought Coutts, who works as a manager at the family’s OK Grocer in Algoa Park, expensive gifts such as Polo handbags.
Panayiotou’s lawyers will now argue that Siyoni was assaulted and forced to implicate Panayiotou in Jayde’s murder.
If they succeed, the evidence which resulted from Siyoni after that point could be deemed inadmissible.
Last month, Siyoni’s girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, who initially told police that money found in her boyfriend’s gym bag was payment for the alleged hit, changed her evidence in court, claiming that the money was for the upgrade of his gym.
She was arrested on charges of defeating the ends of justice and perjury.