Panayiotou trial day 10 – Defence claims state ambushed them

BY JESICA SLABBERT - OCTOBER 25, 2016

Continuing from Monday’s questioning, day ten of the murder trial against Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, and his two alleged accomplices Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, saw the cross-examination of another State witness, Warrant Officer Johannes Botes.

The trio are accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of the businessman’s wife Jayde, in April 2015.

Warrant Officer Botes was cross-examined by the accused’s defence lawyers, Terry Price and Peter Daubermann.

Botes was the policeman, who discovered the car that was allegedly used by alleged hitman Sizwesakhe Vumazonke in the murder of Jayde.

Price immediately stated that the state has ambushed them by bringing in witnesses that testify about Vumazonke, who died in hospital in September 2016 after being in a coma for a week.

"We are being forced to defend Vumazonke. How are we supposed to defend him if he is not before this court? We don’t want this evidence to be allowed,” argued Price.

After listening to objections from both Price and Daubermann, Judge Dalayin Chetty stated that they will have to deliberate at later stage if evidence admissible or not, as they can't make such a ruling at this stage.

Price began cross-examining Botes by questioning him about the swollen eye Luthando Siyoni had after he was arrested and taken to the Kabega Park police station.

Siyoni is the alleged middleman, who helped to orchestrate Jayde’s kidnapping and murder.

It has been the defence’s argument that Siyoni was assaulted into a confession that implicated Panayiotou.

Price noted that when Siyoni was first booked in his swollen eye was noted in the booking, but the next day it Botes wrote that he was ‘free from injuries’, which Price said could not be possible.

Botes stated that the entry meant that Siyoni had no new injuries the next day as opposed to ones he had already had before booking.

Price then asked where Botes made the entry about Siyoni and Vumazonke’s injuries.

"I made entry in Despatch occurrence book about Vumazonke. I didn't make an entry in pocket book. I did give the info about Vumazonke being injured. Someone else wrote it down," said Botes.

Price also noted that an entry was also made about Siyoni.

He said that that Botes signed that statement that said how Vumazonke received his injury, but did not read the entire entry, which Price stated was extremely negligent on Botes’ part.

Price then asked why Siyoni was moved from the KwaNobuhle police station to Kabega Park police station and not to one of the closer stations.

Botes stated that the case was a Kabega Park investigation.

Price then asked is Botes knew if anyone informed Vumazonke of his rights at any time.

Botes said that he had heard Captain Mayi do so at the Despatch police station, but they were told to him in Xhosa, which Botes admits he has no understanding of.

"I'm not able to speak Xhosa, so I can't say exactly what was conveyed to Vumazonke when his rights were explained. I just saw Mayi fill in notice of rights,” said Botes.

However, Price noted that on the notice of rights, Mayi stated that Vumazonke’s rights were warned to him in English.

The defence then called for an early adjournment as they required more time to review the evidence before they begin a cross-examination of state witness, Stoger.

The trial continues.