Drama as State witness refuses to answer questions at Panayiotou Trial

BY JESICA SLABBERT - NOVEMBER 16, 2016

Tensions were high in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday as alleged middleman in the Panayiotou murder trial, Luthando Siyoni, refused to answer any questions asked by State Prosecutor, Marius Stander.

Siyoni is the key state witness in the case against Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, who stands accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of his wife Jayde in April last year.

The State alleges that Siyoni is the man Panayiotou turned to in order to find a hitman.

Wednesday marked the third day that Siyoni was on the stand, and like the previous days, his statements continued to leave members of the gallery with wide eyes.

Siyoni has claimed that in order to get an incriminating statement from him, police assaulted him and forced him to confess to playing a part in the murder – this is the same confession that was used to implicate Panayiotou.

On Tuesday, Siyoni was read the statement that he gave to police after his arrest and was asked what he was forced to say after being allegedly threatened and what he said of his own free will.

When proceedings started on Wednesday Siyoni’s lawyer, Zolile Ngqeza, stated that he had informed Siyoni that he did not have to answer any questions that could incriminate him in any way.

Stander began by asking about the affidavit Siyoni gave to Investigating Officer, Kanna Swanepoel, but Siyoni immediately stated that he will not be answering any questions that have to do with any statements he made.

"I can't answer these questions. I don't want to give an answer to something that may be used against me," said Siyoni.

Stander then asked if Siyoni planned on answering any of his questions after his statement, to which Siyoni stated that he would only answer questions pertaining to the money that Panayiotou had given him, which he then gave to the alleged hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke, who has since died.

Stander then continued to read the statement that Siyoni had given and question its correctness, with Siyoni refusing to answer any of them.

This was the pattern that went on throughout the entire day’s proceedings.

At the end of the day’s proceedings, Stander had managed to go through the entire 204 witness statement with no answer from Siyoni at all.

Siyoni will take the stand again on Thursday, with Stander still questioning him.

The trial continues.