Bouncer had swollen eye but no split lip or torn pants, court told
It was the lighter moments – such as bouncer Luthando Siyoni snoring in the back of his van – that allowed a policeman to recall enough information yesterday to rebut the testimony of the alleged middleman.
Warrant Officer Dirk Greeff, known as a bit of a joker among his colleagues, said he transported Siyoni, 37, to Fort Beaufort on April 28 last year for his confession with regard to Jayde Panayiotou’s murder to be recorded.
It was an exceptionally emotional day for Jayde’s family yesterday, as they sat and listened to the proceedings on what would have been the Uitenhage teacher’s 31st birthday.
Greeff told the Port Elizabeth High Court he had been on night shift when his boss, who is nicknamed “Grumpy”, asked him to assist with the transport of a suspect.
He met up with Siyoni and the investigating officer at the time, Constable Aldre Koen, and immediately noticed his left eye was swollen.
“I introduced myself, told him I’m not involved in the case and asked him what had happened to his eye,” Greeff said. Siyoni told him that he was “moered [clobbered]” by police.
Asked by state advocate Marius Stander why he was so interested in Siyoni’s injury if he was not directly involved in the investigation, Greeff said he did not want to be accused later of assaulting Siyoni while transporting him.
He accordingly recorded the injury in his pocket book.
Greeff denied that Siyoni’s lip was split or that his pants were torn.
“I would not have allowed it. I would have given him another pair as my female partner was with me,” Greeff said.
Before leaving, he asked Koen to explain Siyoni’s rights to him once more.
“While we were on the road, he asked me when he could see an attorney,” Greeff said.
“I answered that he could see one any time and offered to turn back.” But Siyoni rejected his offer. Stander told Greeff that it was also Siyoni’s testimony that he did not sleep for nearly two days – from when he was taken in for questioning on April 27 to his detention on April 29.
“That’s not true. In fact, it was one of the lighter moments of the trip as Siyoni had started to snore,” Greeff said.
“I said to my partner ‘now I can’t sleep because he is keeping me awake’ and we laughed.”
On arrival in Fort Beaufort, he told the officers there to give Siyoni something to eat.
Then, on the way back to Port Elizabeth, they bought pies and Greeff gave Siyoni a packet of biscuits from his bag.
“We asked him if he wanted a Coke or Energade because he is one of those fitness freaks.” He said Siyoni had not slept on the way back, but had laughed at the way Greeff was teasing his partner.
They had also stopped in Grahamstown to fill up with petrol and Siyoni spoke to a few people at the garage.
Defence advocate Terry Price SC said much of what Greeff had told the court was not contained in his affidavit.
It is alleged Siyoni arranged Jayde’s kidnapping and murder at the behest of her husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30.
The trial continues today.