Siyoni declared hostile witness

Luthando Siyoni is testifying in the Panayiotou murder trial Picture: Eugene Coetzee
Luthando Siyoni is testifying in the Panayiotou murder trial
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Implications far-reaching for bouncer

A bouncer who allegedly assisted Christopher Panayiotou to have his wife, Jayde, killed, found himself in hot water yesterday when his refusal to answer questions saw Judge Dayalin Chetty declare him a hostile witness.

The implications for Luthando Siyoni are far-reaching, with his Section 204 status protecting him from prosecution for murder now in jeopardy.

Siyoni, 36, who initially told police how he helped his former boss to find hitmen to kidnap and murder Jayde, 29, in April last year, told state advocate Marius Stander yesterday that his refusal to answer questions stemmed from the prosecutor’s decision to discredit him.

“If Mr Stander did not take the decision to discredit me, then I would have answered his questions,” a defiant Siyoni said.

“Now there is not a single question, from anyone in this court, that I will answer.”

Asked by a frustrated Stander if he understood the meaning of being a Section 204 witness, Siyoni responded like so many times before: “I won’t answer that question.”

From time to time, he let his guard down and gave Stander brief answers, before reverting to his mum status. “I just wanted to answer that,” he would remark.

Port Elizabeth criminal attorney Kuban Chetty, who is not related to the judge, said yesterday the job of a Section 204 witness was to answer all questions, and to do so honestly and frankly.

“[Siyoni] has refused to answer questions from the state and indications are now that they will move for him not to be granted immunity from prosecution,” Chetty said.

If this does happen, Siyoni could stand trial separately for the Uitenhage teacher’s murder.

But defence advocate Terry Price SC left Siyoni with much to think about as the case was postponed yesterday, telling him that he wanted to help prove that what he was now saying about being assaulted by the police, and being forced to implicate himself and Panayiotou, 30, was the truth.

But to do so, Price needed Siyoni to answer his questions.

“I want to make something very clear. I am not going to have you charged with perjury or try to discredit you,” Price said.

“I want to prove that you are telling the truth and need your help to do so.”

Siyoni, whose elderly mother sat in the back of the court, said he would seek advice from his attorney, Zolile Ngqeza, and return with an answer for Price today.

Stander, meanwhile, said he would argue that Siyoni had cooperated at all times with the police, was not threatened or assaulted and that the meeting with Panayiotou – an undercover sting which led to his arrest – took place because Siyoni wanted to verify his version.

Stander said further that Siyoni had willingly granted the police access to his Facebook account and his various cellphones to conduct their investigation.

The trial continues today.

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