Panayiotou murder case postponed again to 2 December

SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

The case against Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, who allegedly hired his co-accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, to abduct and murder his wife, Jayde, suffered another delay in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court when it was postponed by Magistrate Jan Steenkamp until 2 December.

On that date, a possible High Court date will be decided on and subsequently the trial date.

Advocate Terry Price, who appeared for Panayiotou, was not however happy saying for the five months that his client has been in custody, they were still to received the State's docket. He said that all attempts to get the docket had also failed.

Meanwhile, the State said that investigations were still in progress.

Price said that they were now considering approaching the High Court to have the State release the docket.

It had been expected that the case had already been transferred to the High Court and that the prosecution and defence would decide on the trial date today - likely to be on 19 April 2016, according to some reports. 

Another reason for the postponement was that alleged hitman, Vumazonke, had appeared in the court without his legal representation after his lawyer, Anne Swanepoel, was struck off the roll for fraud in August.

He indicated that his family would seek a new lawyer for him.

Panayiotou will reportedly attempt another bail application before 2 December.

Thando Siyoli absent

Another co-accused and the alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoli, was absent from today's hearing after he struck a deal with the State to become their key witness and the charges gainst him were dropped.

The full details of the deal between the State and Siyoni are not known. One thing is certain though, the State needs Siyoni on its side after it seemingly lost another crucial witness and Christopher's alleged mistress, Chanelle Coutts.

Early in June, Coutts had reportedly agreed to testify against Christopher before changing her tune by the end of that month and seemingly defended him in interviews with magazines and newspapers.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) then said that the brief appearance was because investigations were still on-going.

Panayiotou allegedly hired Siyoli, a bouncer, who was in his employ at his Infinity Club in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth, to find a hitman, Vumazonke, to kidnap and murder his wife.

Jayde was kidnapped on Tuesday, April 21, while waiting outside her complex in Kabega Park for her lift to Riebeek College Girls' High School in Uitenhage, where she taught. Her body was found near KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, the next day.

The State has previously argued that Panayiotou had to get rid of Jayde as he was in debt and could not afford her and his mistress and employee Coutts. It also argued that he was in dangher of losing his inheritance due to the affair with Coutts.

It claimed that Panayiotou paid R70 000 in total for the murder.

In July, Panayiotou failed in his second attempt to get bail in the Grahamstown High Court after complaining about the appalling conditions at St Albans Prison. The court upheld an earlier ruling by Port Elizabeth Magistrate, Abigail Beeton, that he was a flight risk.

High Court Judge Goosens said if released Panayiotou could also tamper with evidence and interfere with witnesses and that no exceptional reasons were found for bail.

READ THE FULL JUDGEMENT HERE.

Panayiyoutou's legal team had sought to prove that Magistrate Beeton erred in denying him bail. 

At the hearing, Panayiotou offered a R200 000 bail bond, having previously said he only could afford R50 000.

He had also added another high-prole lawyer to his legal team, Advocate Mike Hellens.

The case has attracted much attention following several cases of people dying at their spouse's hand