Cellphone sleuth connects dots in Jayde trial

Thereza Botha
Picture: Kathryn Kimberley

The phone of murder accused Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress was used a staggering 17 times to contact one of the men initially approached to carry out the alleged hit on his wife, a data analyst revealed yesterday.

Shocking the court further, cellphone sleuth Thereza Botha said the handset of Panayiotou’s cousin was used to contact suspected triggerman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke prior to Jayde’s murder.

Through her testimony, Botha tied up months of evidence in the Port Elizabeth High Court as she set out to connect the dots between Panayiotou and his coaccused.

“In this matter, the data analysis is not only looking at the events that took place on April 21 2015, but casts a broader view of what preceded that day, ” Botha told state advocate Marius Stander.

Botha said Panayiotou, 30, was in regular contact with his former employee, Luthando Siyoni, whom he allegedly asked to arrange his wife’s murder.

It is alleged that Siyoni, in turn, made contact with various acquaintances saved on his phone as “Trompie”, “Happy Trigger” or “Sky” before ultimately giving the job to now-deceased Vumazonke.

At one point, in February 2015, Siyoni sent a text message to Sky with a description of Jayde’s car.

It is alleged further that Vumazonke had recruited Sinethemba Nemembe to help him carry out the kidnapping and murder on April 21 2015.

At some point, Zolani Sibeko, who is charged as a co-conspirator, helped the alleged hitmen to stake out Jayde’s Stellen Glen residence in Kabega Park and her place of work at Riebeek College in Uitenhage.

The men allegedly even visited the Glen Hurd home of Jayde’s close friend and colleague, Cherise Swanepoel, with whom Jayde carpooled to work.

“During the event analysis, it becomes relevant to determine whether the individuals identified to be associated with each other played a role in an event or a series of events,” Botha said.

She said the handset of Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts, communicated with Trompie 17 times between September and October 2014.

According to Botha, it could not have been Panayiotou using Coutts’s phone to communicate with Trompie as his handset registered in a different area during those times.

Botha said Panayiotou and Coutts were in regular contact, except when Panayiotou was with Jayde on her family’s farm near Uitenhage. When Jayde was away, however, like in September 2014, Coutts’s phone registered with the Linton Grange tower in the vicinity of the couple’s Stellen Glen complex.

Coutts’s best friend at the time, Clarishka Kapp, testified last year that Coutts had often spent the night with Panayiotou when Jayde was away.

“Coutts’s handset seemed to have spent nights in the vicinity of the residence of the deceased when the deceased was away,” Botha said yesterday.

Botha said multiple SIM cards were placed in Panayiotou’s handset during this period.

Turning to Panayiotou’s cousin, Claudio Bertolani, Botha said that between September 2014 and April 2015, the two phoned each other 810 times.

Bertolani’s cellphone records became of interest to her because his handset was in constant communication with Panayiotou, and was also used to contact Vumazonke in January 2015, she said.

Botha returns to the stand today.

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