Panayiotou sting operation at centre of trial-within-a-trial

Christopher Panayiotou File picture: Eugene Coetzee
Christopher Panayiotou
File picture: Eugene Coetzee

Details of how a sting operation came about in which Christopher Panayiotou allegedly implicated himself in his wife, Jayde’s murder, became the subject of a trial-within-a-trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday morning.

Constable Aldre Koen, who was the investigating officer before handing over the reins to Captain Kanna Swanepoel of the Organised Crime Unit, said he was sent to Uitenhage on April 29 last year to collect a bakkie to be used in the police trap.

Koen said the vehicle was fitted with wiring to record a conversation between alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni, 37, and his boss at the time, Panayiotou, 30.

While Siyoni and another officer drove to the meeting point that evening in the state-appointed bakkie, Koen and his partner followed them in another vehicle to the Engen Garage in Algoa Park.

Koen said he lay flat in their vehicle and therefore could not actually see or hear what was going on between the Panayiotou and the bouncer.

The trial-within-a-trial was called on Friday morning in order to determine the admissibility of the video recording. The defence claims Siyoni was beaten and forced to implicate Panayiotou, making it inadmissible.

After the meeting, Koen said Siyoni gave him his cellphone and the cash allegedly given to him by Panayiotou.

Panayiotou then phoned Koen, and in a recording played to the court, told him that Siyoni was headed for East London. He also supplied Koen with a partial number plate.

In Panayiotou’s bail application last year, the state claimed that in the recording Panayiotou could be seen patting Siyoni down in an attempt to search for a wire.

He allegedly gave him R2 000 and told him to destroy his phone so the police could not trace it. Siyoni also told Panayiotou that he would hide out in Jeffreys Bay.

State advocate Marius Stander will return to court on Friday afternoon to argue for the sting video to be submitted now, rather than once the trial-within-a-trial is concluded.

 

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