Panayiotou's appalling conditions at St Albans raised in court

JULY 20, 2015

The appalling conditions in the prison where murder accused Christopher Panayiotou is being kept were raised by his lawyer on Monday during an application to appeal an earlier refusal of bail.

His newly appointed additional lawyer, Mike Hellens SC, told the Grahamstown High Court the conditions at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth "where human beings are packed together and forced to defecate in front of each other" were inhumane.

Judge Glen Goosen heard that Panayiotou, a co-accused in the murder of his school teacher wife, Jayde, was in a single cell and was only allowed out for one hour a day.

He suggested that a court order could be made to prevent Panayiotou from engaging with State witnesses.

It would be unconstitutional to have Panayiotou confined in solitary confinement while he is still innocent until proven guilty, submitted Hellens.

Panayiotou, 28, is accused of conspiring to have 29-year-old Jayde murdered. He allegedly hired Luthando Siyoli, 31, a bouncer in his employ at the Infinity club in Algoa Park, Port Elizabeth, to find a hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, to kidnap and murder her.

She had been kidnapped on April 21, while waiting outside her complex in Kabeka Park for her lift to Riebeek College Girls' High School in Uitenhage, where she worked as a teacher. Her body was found near KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, the next day.

On Monday it was confirmed in court that Siyoli is a state witness in the case.

Earlier, Hellens had tried to gain access to the statements made by Panayiotou's girlfriend, Chanelle Coutts, and her friend, Clarissa Kapp, as well as the submissions relating to Siyoli, but Goosen denied his request.

Hellens had at one stage quipped, "There is something rotten in the sate of Denmark" in relation to Siyoli's evidence and said the forensic truth would come out in due course.

Hellens also rounded on the state's submissions regarding Panayiotou's Cypriot passport. It emerged during the bail application at the Port Elizabeth Magistrates' Court, heard before Magistrate Abigail Beeton, that he had not admitted to having a foreign passport.

Hellens said a claim by an investigating officer that Panayiotou had applied for the passport before Jayde's death was reckless because on closer inspection, it was done years ago.

He said Panayiotou was "born and bred in South Africa" and had three profitable businesses and a good credit record. He also has a supportive family network.

The application was heard in the presence of Panayiotou's family and Jayde's family. The latter wore black and yellow T-shirts in support of the murdered schoolteacher.

oxfoCourt adjourned for lunch and was expected to resume at 2pm.

---News24wire

Related: CHRISTOPHER PANAYIOTOU BAIL HEARING POSTPONED