Panayiotou trial: State’s key witness declared hostile

BY JESICA SLABBERT - NOVEMBER 17, 2016

Alleged middleman and key State witness, Luthando Siyoni, was on Thursday declared hostile in the Port Elizabeth High Court after he again refused to answer questions from both the State and the Defence – just as he did on Wednesday.

Siyoni was on the stand in the murder trial against Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou.

Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of his wife, Jayde, in April last year. Siyoni is alleged to have hired a hitman, alleged to be Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, who has since died, on behalf of Panayiotou.

Siyoni has, however, claimed that in order to get the incriminating statement from him against Panayiotou, Port Elizabeth police assaulted and tortured him until he cooperated with them.

When he agreed – the State dropped charges against him and made him a Section 204 witness.

Still, Panayiotou’s Defence has since last year maintained Siyoni was beaten into a confession that was used to implicate their client.

At the start of day 26 of the trial, on Thursday morning, Siyoni reiterated to State prosecutor, Marius Stander, that he will not be answering any questions in court.

"Mr Stander has already made a decision to discredit me, there is no question that I'm going to answer today," said Siyoni.

Stander then asked Siyoni if he would also not answer any questions from the Defence.

“I refuse to answer anything from anybody in this court,” said Siyoni.

Due to Siyoni’s lack of cooperation in the court and his refusal to answer any and all questions directed to him, he was declared a hostile witness in the court.

His girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, in October was also declared hostile and is now being charged for perjury and defeating the ends of justice.

After Stander concluded his questioning, Defence Advocate, Terry Price, proceeded to cross-examine Siyoni.

“Will you answer my questions and help me prove that you are telling the truth?” asked Price.

Siyoni’s attorney asked that the court adjourn for the day so that he may consult with his client with regards to the questioning.

The trial continues.