Panayiotou's third bail bid resumes in PE Magistrate's Court

JUNE 1, 2016

The bail application of Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, who is accused of orchestrating the faked hijacking and subsequent murder of his teacher wife, Jayde, in April last year, is expected to resume on Wednesday in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court after being postponed last week Friday.

The hearing has had several postponements since it started about two weeks ago.

On Friday, an emotional letter scribbled by Jayde, months before her tragic death, was read out in court by the State prosecutor, Marius Stander. In it, Jayde expressed her longing for her husband's affection and love. She also detailed how her marriage life had been a misery that she could never share with anyone.

Still, Panayiotou, through his lawyers, dismissed the letter as irrelevant to the case arguing that it could have been written for a number of reasons.

The State also described the brutal events leading to her death. On the day of the faked hijacking, she is believed to have been hit on the head and forcibly shoved into the boot of a car. Her fingers were even crushed when the boot was slammed shut. Later, her abducters stopped at an open field in KwaNobuhle, outside Uitenhage, where they shot her three times.

It also emerged that Panayiotou's friend, Donavan Vosloo, who admitted to wiping data from the phones of Christopher and his mistress, Chanelle Coults, has now turned state witness.

However, the defence accused the State of pressurising Vosloo to turn against Panayotou.
In opposing bail, Stander also argued that the defence did not present any new information that warrants bail.

This after Panayioutou's lawyers told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court that he is innocent of the murder and placed the blame on his former barman, who has since turned state witness, Luthando Siyoni.

In a 67-page affidavit, he said sworn affidavits from his mistress, who was also his Manager at one of his businesses, Chanelle Coutts, and her best friend, Clarissa Kapp, did not implicated him contrary to what investigating officer, Kanna Swanepoel, told the court. 

Panayiotou denied being in financial difficulties, which the State says was part of the motive. He also disputed Swanepoel's statements that his father had threatened to disinherit him if he did not break off the affair with Coutts.

He said that after Siyoni was assaulted by the police, that is when he implicated him and he does not know why Siyoni planned to murder his wife though he believes Siyoni was into drug dealing.

Panayiotou again offered to pay what was deemed a fair bail amount and offered to wear an ankle bracelet and report to police as many times the court deemed necessary.

This is Panayiotou's third bid at bail in the court. He has been languishing at the St Albans Prison since his arrest in April last year after two previous attempts at bail failed.

Magistrate Beeton, who is hearing his third bail bid, initially refused him bail in June 2015 saying that, partly due to his dual citizenship, he was a flight risk and that he could also interfere with witnesses.

Unsatisfied, his lawyers appealed the decision at the Grahamstown High Court. That court upheld Magistrate Beeton's initial ruling.

In November, Panayiotou filed another application for bail only to withdraw it as his legal representation had not received the docket.

The murder case was moved to the Port Elizabeth High Court for trial, which is expected to begin on 3 October.