Low-key appearance for Jayde ‘middleman’

Siyoni in court after being on run since immunity revoked

Luthando Siyoni in court at a previous appearance in November 2016
Luthando Siyoni in court at a previous appearance in November 2016
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Nobody appeared to pay too much attention yesterday when self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni stood in the dock – a complete contrast to the previous court appearances of those who took part in killing Jayde Panayiotou.

Not even his family or those of Jayde’s were present as Siyoni made a brief appearance in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

He is accused of orchestrating the abduction and murder of the Uitenhage school teacher.

Siyoni, 37, had been on the run for nearly six months and was arrested on Monday at his home in Kwazakhele.

Dressed in a navy blue body warmer and matching long sleeve shirt, Siyoni peered around as he entered the empty court room.

His immunity from prosecution was revoked after Port Elizabeth High Court Judge Dayalin Chetty found Siyoni to be a poor witness who lied and concocted varying versions of events during the murder trial of Jayde.

He is facing the same charge as Jayde’s husband, Christopher, who was convicted in November of her murder.

Christopher Panayiotou was found guilty of the murder of his wife, Jayde. File picture:
Christopher Panayiotou was found guilty of the murder of his wife, Jayde. File picture:
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Siyoni allegedly helped arrange the murder of the 29-year-old teacher on behalf of her husband. Jayde went missing from outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, on April 21 2015. Her body was found in KwaNobuhle the next day.

Siyoni, a former employee of Pananayiotou’s, was the first to be arrested in connection with Jayde’s murder, after police received a tip-off.

He quickly confessed the details of the kidnapping and the murder, which were made in statements obtained from both him and his girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast.

Babalwa Breakfast. File picture
Babalwa Breakfast. File picture
Image: Eugene Coetzee

But when the trial started last year, he denied his involvement in arranging hitmen and claimed he had been tortured and forced to implicate his former boss.

He refused to answer any of state advocate Marius Stander’s questions.

A number of questions, however, still remain, particularly when it comes to Siyoni’s girlfriend, Breakfast.

Breakfast was arrested in October 2016, and after being declared a hostile witness was accused of committing perjury when she backtracked on testimony relating to whether or not Siyoni had told her about the plan to have Jayde killed.

Charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice were provisionally withdrawn against Breakfast in February last year pending the outcome of the court case.

Siyoni’s attorney, Zolile Ngqeza, told the court yesterday that his client intended to apply for bail.

His case was provisionally postponed to today for a date to be decided between Siyoni’s attorney and the state for his formal bail application.

Prosecutor Andre Kirshner said the state intended to oppose bail.

When asked if a warrant of arrest would be issued against Breakfast, NPA spokesman Tsepo Ndwalaza said: “We see the arrest of Siyoni as a step in the right direction in our quest for justice in this matter.”

He would not say if Breakfast would be formally charged, but confirmed that she would be a witness in the Siyoni case. “I have been informed that Siyoni’s girlfriend [Breakfast] is a witness in this case,” Ndwalaza said.

An appeal lodged against the conviction of Panayiotou will be heard on May 16 in the Port Elizabeth High Court.