Panayiotou trial resumes in the Port Elizabeth High Court

JUNE 12, 2017
Panayiotou trial resumes in the Port Elizabeth High Court

The trial of disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, and his co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, resumes on Monday morning in the Port Elizabeth High Court after a month-long break.

Judge Dayalin Chetty is expected to make his ruling on the admissibility of a secret video recording where Panayiotou allegedly implicates himself in the murder of his teacher wife, Jayde, in April 2015.

The trial has been going on since October 2016.

In May, when the trial was postponed to June, the so-called 'trial within a trial' did not conclude as had been expected by many. 

The 'trial within a trial' has focussed on alleged middleman and former key State witness, Luthando Siyoni. Siyoni, was employed by Panayiotou and it is the State's case that he was the one, who arranged the faked kidnapping and subsequent murder of Jayde on behalf of his boss - which was allegedly done by Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, with assistance from Nenembe and Sibeko.

Vumazonke died shortly after falling ill while in custody at St Albans Prison.

It is his confession while in police custody that was used to implicate Panayiotou in the murder.

But, the Defence, has sought to show that Siyoni was badly assaulted while in police custody as officers sought to extract the same confession that they later used to implicate Panayiotou in the crime.

On 5 May, Advocate, Terry Price’s final witness, Siyanda Nogogo Siyoni, showed up late and delaying proceedings. Siyanda is the younger brother of Siyoni.

The younger Siyoni was called as a last minute witness by Price to give his statement on the time that Siyoni’s home was raided by police and to provide his statement on Siyoni’s appearance following his arrest.

“He was swollen on his face and eye,” said Siyanda.

When Price asked which eye, Siyanda said he could not recall.

During the previous day’s proceedings, the mothers of Luthando Siyoni and his girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast, were called as witnesses for the Defence. They were asked about Siyoni and the state he was in after he was arrested.

They both testified that his face looked swollen and his one eye was swollen shut - hinting on the Defence's arguement that Siyoni was badly assaulted by officers to extract a confession that was later used to implicate Panayiotou.

When State Prosecutor, Marius Stander, began his cross examination, he asked both mothers which eye it was that they said was swollen, and surprisingly they both said it was Siyoni’s right eye, but according to photos of Siyoni, it was his left eye that was swollen.

The jeans Siyoni was wearing during his arrest were also brought to the court's attention, as Siyoni alleged they were ripped while he was being assaulted by police.

Siyanda said that Siyoni was handcuffed and trying to hold his jeans up because they were torn.

"I did not observe the condition of the jeans but he was holding onto them. He was handcuffed,” said Siyanda.

When Stander, began his cross examination he asked Siyanda how Siyoni was able to keep his pants up if he was cuffed with his hands in front of him. Siyanda could not recall.

Price then closed his case with Stander ready to argue. However Price said that he still needed time to go through the record, which is said to be over 2 000 pages, and that it is crucial he has everything in order for the trial within a trial.

Judge Chetty conceded and said that both attorneys need to have their arguments ready before the trial resumes again on 12 June.