Panayiotou trial enters third day

OCTOBER 13, 2016

The murder trial against Christopher Panayiotou and his alleged accomplices, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko is expected to resume in the Port Elizabeth High Court's Courtroom A at 9:30am for its third day. 

The trial's second day, Wednesday, was not without its intense moments. 

The State called its first witness, Cherise Swanepoel, who was a close friend and colleague of Panayiotou's murdered wife, Jayde. On the morning of Jayde's disappearance, she had actually been waiting for Swanepoel, whom she often travelled with to the school where they taught.

She broke down in tears at the stand when she was asked by the prosecution to identify Christopher Panayiotou.

State Prosecutor Marius Stander asked Swanepoel to narrate the events of 21 April 2015, the day Jayde disappeared.

She said on that day, she sent Jayde three Whatsapp messages to tell her that she was on her way - the last message, which was “here” never got delivered.

“On the day Jayde went missing, it was raining, I Whatsapped her to ask if I could come in and fetch her, Jayde replied that she would walk,” she added.

Swanepoel then waited in the car for a while as Jayde sometimes “took long” to come out - she eventually called her, but the call went straight to voicemail.

She tried the landline and there was no answer - that was when called Christopher, who replied that she had gone to work.

Swanepoel explained to him that it was impossible because Jayde knew she was coming to fetch her. She then went inside the complex where she met Christopher, who told her “something wasn’t right”.

They then both drove around the complex looking for Jayde.

Thereafter Swanepoel said that Christopher drove to KwaNobuhle after money was withdrawn from her bank account at an ATM near Njoli Square.

Swanepoel said Christopher sounded “surprised” to hear that Jayde had gone missing, and had sounded “determined to find [Jayde].”

Later on, during testimony by Jayde's younger sister, Toni Inggs, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard that the Panayiotou's did not have a happy marriage in their 11 years together - the State has hinted this as motive for Panayiotou to want to have Jayde murdered.

He has sought to deny this - claiming they had a wonderful marriage, despite it emerging last year that he was having an extra marital affair with a manageress at one of his businesses.

Inggs read out to the court sections of a letter written by Jayde, where she narrated how she was unhappy and lonely in the marriage.

She said she would often reassure Jayde that there was nothing to worry about, since she was not aware of Panayiotou's affair.

But her suspicions were raised when she realised Jayde was not allowed to touch Christopher's phone.

During cross-examination, Defence Advocate Terry Price accused Inggs of posting terrible comments on Facebook about the defence team and the Panayiotou family.

Price said that while he had a lot of sympathy for the Inggs family, he did not understand why he was referred to as a “pig” and why Inggs would attack Christopher’s mother, Fanoula.

An angry Inggs told presidng Judge Dayalin Chetty that Price previously called her “f*ck*ng stupid” and said that she wanted justice for her sister  - and Christopher must be jailed.

She also told the court that the Panayiotou family treated the Inggs family like the enemy and showed no remorse or compassion.

Inggs said that she had loved Christopher as a brother and had defended him when Jayde indicated she was unhappy.

Price still went on to highlight several photoss posted on Jayde’s Instagram account that showed the couple being “happily married” and accused Inggs of only showing investigating officer, Kanna Swanepoel, the negative side of the couple’s marriage.

Not guilty! Murder-accused, Panayiotou, and his alleged accomplices, Nenembe and Sibeko, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the charges of abducting and killing the disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman's wife, Jayde, in April last year, at the start of the murder trial.