Panayiotou a no-show at court case

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

The application brought by Christopher Panayiotou to have the State hand over the case docket has had to be rescheduled to next week after Panayiotou failed to appear in court.

Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife, 29-year-old school teacher Jayde, in April this year.

It is alleged that he paid Luthando Siyoli, 31, a bouncer at his nightclub in Algoa Park, to hire a hit man, identified as Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, to murder his wife.

Late last month Sinethemba Nenembe, 28, was also linked to the case and will join Panayiotou and Vumazonke in the dock. Siyoli has since turned state witness.

Magistrate Abigail Beeton, who was hearing the application for the docket to be handed over to Panayiotou's legal team – attorney Alwyn Griebenow and advocate Terry Price SC – initially delayed the start of the application from 10:00 to 11:15 on Friday to familiarise herself with the heads of argument filed.

Jurisdiction of magistrate's court

When proceedings began, Beeton requested the court orderly to bring Panayiotou into the courtroom but he was nowhere to be found.

When asked why Panayiotou was not present, Price said his understanding was that Panayiotou did not have to be present and no arrangements had been made for him to be brought from St Albans prison. But he said he had no problem in arranging to have Panayiotou brought to court.

"I don't want to allow something as easily fixed as this to get in the way, let's get him here," he said.

Beeton emphasised that she was "bound by the four corners of the Criminal Procedures Act" which dictated that any application brought required the accused to be present in court.

Prosecutor Marius Stander agreed with Beeton on the need to have Panayiotou present in court.

Stander said that before the application to hand over the docket was heard, a decision needed to be made on whether the magistrate's court had the necessary jurisdiction to make such an order.

He said the State would argue that, while an accused is entitled to bring an application for the case docket as part of a bail application, there was currently no bail application before the court.

Price countered, saying that for Panayiotou to bring a new bail application, he would need to present new evidence to the court and, to do so, they needed access to the case docket.

New bail application needs new evidence

Beeton cautioned Price that, should he wish to lodge a new bail application on behalf of Panayiotou, he would need to bring new evidence and not simply reshuffle previous arguments.

She rescheduled the matter until November 24.

Price has to file brief heads of argument relating to points raised by Stander about the jurisdiction of a magistrate's court before next Tuesday's proceedings.

Beeton denied Panayiotou’s first bail application when he appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on June 5. A subsequent appeal in the High Court in Grahamstown was turned down in July.

He has been in custody at the St Albans Correctional Facilities since his arrest.