Panayiotou trial adjourns for Monday to allow Defence to peruse phone records

BY JESICA SLABBERT - OCTOBER 21, 2016

The records from a phone allegedly used by Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, to call alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, during the planning of the allegedly faked abduction and murder of the businessman’s wife, Jayde, dominated proceeding on day eight of the murder trial.

Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of his wife Jayde, with two co-accused accomplices, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko.

Friday’s proceedings saw Defence Advocate, Terry Price, continuing from where he left off on Thursday by cross-examining state witness Mawonga Ndedwa.

Ndedwa is a former employee at the OK Grocer in Algoa Park, which is owned by Panayiotou.

It is the State’s case that Ndedwa was in possession of the cell phone that Panayiotou allegedly used to call Siyoni to arrange the kidnapping and murder of Jayde.

Price started by questioning Ndedwa about the R1 000 he was allegedly given by Panayiotou to destroy his cell phone, and questioned if Panayiotou really did break the phone’s SIM card in front of him.

Ndedwa insisted that it was indeed broken and that he handed his phone in to the investigating officer on the 24th of February 2016.

Price then stated that Ndedwa has been known to take out a lot of advances on his salary - most were at R1 000. Ndedwa then asked Judge Dalayin Chetty if he could ask Price a question.

"Am I in the witness box because of my personal affairs or to tell about phone and money," asked Ndedwa.

Price responded by saying that Ndedwa was there to tell his version while he, Price, tests its credibility.

The Defence then stated that the R1 000 that Ndedwa received was in fact and advance on his salary, but Ndedwa stated that the money was not deducted from his salary because it was given to him privately.

Price then stated that Panayiotou said that Ndedwa often asked for money, and he would give him some from R100 to R300 out of generosity.

That was when the Defence asked to play the phone recording between Ndedwa and Panayiotou’s mother, Fanoula, with regards to the cell phone.

The public and media were asked to leave for a short adjournment so that the Judge could listen to the recording privately.

When court resumed the transcription of the recording was displayed for the court to see. The state prosecutor had no problems with the transcription.

In the recording Ndedwa speaks to Fanoula about the cell phone and says he plans to return it.

Price then questions if Ndedwa was doing this to get a reward, which Ndedwa denied saying that he was having second thoughts about handing it in to the police because of all the things Panayiotou has done for him.

The Defence then informed the court that Ndedwa was purposefully downplaying his relationship with Siyoni, and that they were a lot closer than he had previously stated.

“Didn’t you often go to Infinity when they had a brandy special and enjoy a drink with Siyoni?” questioned Price.

Ndedwa denied this, saying he didn’t have time to converse with Siyoni; he said he would only ask how he was and make polite conversation.

Price noted that on the phone, there were 27 phone calls between Ndedwa and Siyoni, two weeks before Jayde went missing. Ndedwa stated that he was not responsible for a single one of those calls.

Ndedwa then spoke about the times that Panayiotou would borrow his phone and make calls.

“He borrowed phone from me several times,” said Ndedwa.

“He would take the phone and go to his office or when I was on a break on several occasions.”

Ndedwa stated that he was only present once when Panayiotou had made a call with his phone, he had also once left OK Grocers with it and only returned it to him at the Infinity Bar the next day.

The Defence then questioned why some of the things that Ndedwa was saying did not appear in his statement.

"I think you're puzzling everybody, and that's what happens when you don't tell the truth," said Price.

Price then asked that court be adjourned until Monday as he has a lot more time with the cell phone records.

The trial continues.