A senior policeman with nearly three decades under his belt said he would not have taken down bouncer Luthando Siyoni’s confession had he been informed that he had been assaulted by the police.
Captain Ntembiso Ndzenzevu also agreed with defence advocate Terry Price SC that material differences in statements often pointed to someone, somewhere along the line, not telling the truth – and that it was concerning.
In the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday, Ndzenzevu, who is stationed in Queenstown, said he had been contacted by the head of detectives in the Eastern Cape, Brigadier Gary McLaren, and asked to meet a suspect in Fort Beaufort on April 28 last year to take down a confession.
He said at that stage he had not been privy to the details of the investigation into Uitenhage teacher Jayde Panayiotou’s murder, and simply followed instructions.
When he met Siyoni that morning, he had first explained to him that he was not compelled to give a statement and had the immediate right to an attorney.
Told by state advocate Marius Stander that Siyoni had since backtracked on what was written in the statement, Ndzenzevu told the court: “Everything recorded there is what he told me.”
Siyoni allegedly said at the time he had been hired by Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 30, to recruit hitmen to kidnap and kill her on April 21 last year.
He now claims he was beaten by police and forced to implicate himself and his former boss.
Shown a photograph taken of Siyoni’s injuries the following day, Ndzenzevu said he had not seen the swollen left eye visible in the picture before the court.
Price asked: “And what would you have done if he told you the police had assaulted him?”
“I would not have taken his confession,” Ndzenzevu responded.
Earlier yesterday, the policeman who transported Siyoni to Fort Beaufort from Port Elizabeth, Warrant Officer Dirk Greeff, remained unperturbed by hard-hitting questions from the defence.
Price criticised Greeff for recording only select details in his police pocketbook and leaving out important aspects such as when Siyoni had inquired about his right to an attorney.
The trial continues today.