Panayiotou bid for appeal ‘silly, bitter, abusive’

Christopher Panayiotou
Christopher Panayiotou
Image: Eugene Coetzee

Judge Dayalin Chetty, in just a few minutes, shot down Christopher Panayiotou’s application for leave to appeal on Thursday, criticising his legal team for placing nothing new before him, and finding their arguments silly, bitter and abusive.

Chetty said no other court in the country would disagree with him that Panayiotou, 31, had planned the cold-blooded murder of his wife, Jayde, 29 – who was kidnapped and shot dead in April 2015.

But it does not end there.

Outside the court, Panayiotou’s lawyers quickly indicated that they would now petition the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein – a process which is likely to take months and, even then, may not amount to anything.

Panayiotou, who was sentenced to life in prison in November, as well as co-perpetrators Sinethemba Nemembe, 28, and Zolani Sibeko, 35, asked the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday for leave to appeal against their convictions.

On Thursday, Chetty turned down all three of them, but focused his judgment on the argument of defence advocate Terry Price SC, who had angled his bid for an appeal on the belief that alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni had been tortured by police and forced into making a confession.

“Consequently, the attack against the judgment [was intended] to avoid the crucial findings and focus instead on a plethora of disingenuous suppositions,” the judge said.

Chetty said the real victim – Uitenhage schoolteacher Jayde – was now being replaced by other would-be “victims” such as Siyoni and his girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, who snubbed the prosecution and changed their versions on the stand.

“As I emphasised in the judgment, the only victim here is Jayde,” he said.

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.

While Panayiotou’s disappointed family was in court on Thursday, Jayde’s family was not.

Chetty said Price’s attack on his judgment – in which he said Chetty had defamed him by implying that he had bribed state witnesses – was without merit.

“[Panayiotou’s] notice of application for leave to appeal is unfortunately not a model of clarity and offends against the spirit,” the judge said.

“It constitutes an amalgam of inane and vituperative comment and is moreover interspersed with [hostile and aggressive] innuendo.”

Panayiotou’s legal team now has a month to petition the appeal court by way of a concise affidavit, showing compelling reasons why the prospect of an appeal may succeed.

Two judges appointed by the appeal court president will then consider the application and decide whether or not it should be argued in the court.

If it is turned down, that is pretty much the end of the road for Panayiotou, unless he is able to raise a constitutional point to be taken up in the Constitutional Court.

Siyoni, who will stand trial separately for allegedly helping to orchestrate Jayde’s kidnapping and murder, will apply for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.