Panayiotou trial: week five in review

Bi Little court time and a lot of consulting – that is how week five of the Panayiotou murder trial played out in the Port Elizabeth High Court this week, with much excitement surrounding the arrival of mistress Chanelle Coutts at court, writes senior court reporter Kathryn Kimberley

FROM THE PROSECUTION:

• A cellphone number linked to the Facebook account of alleged hitman Sinethemba Nemembe is one of the ways in which police allegedly tied him to Jayde Panayiotou’s kidnapping and murder on April 21 last year.

• Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, wearing an OK Grocer uniform and carrying a Polo handbag, showed up at court for the first time to consult with the state, upsetting Jayde’s family and friends.

• The defence was left fuming when state advocate Marius Stander went against his earlier decision to abide by a trial-within-a-trial in order to determine the admissibility of “middleman” Luthando Siyoni’s evidence, instead arguing against the process in totality. Judge Dayalin Chetty ruled in favour of Stander’s submissions.

FROM THE DEFENCE:

• Nemembe’s defence attorney, Peter Daubermann, said the state had next to no evidence against his client. He said there were numerous possibilities as to why the cellphone number could be linked to his client’s Facebook account.

• Defence advocate Terry Price SC told the court that Siyoni had been assaulted by police and therefore his evidence was inadmissible.

• Surprising everyone, Siyoni – a Section 204 witness who claimed he had been approached by Panayiotou to arrange his wife’s murder – recanted on his confession and said he knew nothing about a hit plot. The trial continues on Monday, with Siyoni returning to the stand.

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