Ricochet News

Eastern Cape police welcome sentence handed to Panayiotou

Nov 24, 2017
Eastern Cape police welcome sentence handed to Panayiotou

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in the Eastern Cape, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, has hailed the sentencing of disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, and his two co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe, as a victory and commends the various policing units including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the excellent and professional handling of this case, which resulted in the lengthy sentences.

“We commend all those who were involved, starting from the time of her disappearance up until the perpetrators were arrested and brought before a court of law,” she said.

According to police information, on 21st April 2015, Jade Panayiotou, who was 28 years old and worked as a school teacher disappeared and was last seen outside her residence in Deacon Road Kabega Park. She was waiting for her lift to her school in Uitenhage.

Police were alerted of her disappearance and an immediate manhunt was conducted by various police units assisted by members of the community in search of Jade Panayiotou.

On 22nd April 2015, her body was found in bushes in Kwanobuhle. She had been shot three times in her chest, arm and head.

Between 27th April and 1st May 2015, three suspects including her husband, Christopher, were taken into police custody. 

Two suspects were later arrested.

In September 2016, the alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke (30) passed away at Livingstone Hospital while awaiting trial.

Alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, was released in September 2016 after been held in custody in terms of Section 185 of the Criminal Procedure Act (he believed that his life was in danger but did not want to enter into the Witness Protection programme).

On 2nd November 2017, after a lengthy trial the three remaining accused were found guilty in the Port Elizabeth High Court. Christopher Panayiotou (31) was convicted for murder, Sinethemba Nemembe (28) was convicted for murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances and Zolani Sibeko (35) was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. 

On Friday, the accused were sentenced as follows:

  • Christopher Panayiotou:  Murder: Life sentence
  • Sinethemba Nemembe:  Murder:  Life sentence and Robbery: 15 years. Robbery sentence will run concurrent with the murder sentence
  • Zolani Sibeko:  Conspiracy to commit murder:   15 years imprisonment.

Lt Gen Ntshinga added  that the relentless efforts of our investigators  and the criminal justice system in exercising  thorough investigations and prosecutions is proving to be effective when perpetrators are sent to prison for a long time.

“To murder an innocent human being is a tragedy but to arrest and sentence those responsible is a victory because these accused have not got away for their heinous deeds," she said.

"Through thorough, tireless and expert investigation we have ensured that their lengthy sentencing. As we prepare to observe 16 Days of Activism of No Crimes Against Women and Children, these sentences send out a strong and clear message to perpetrators who abuse, injure and kill innocent and helpless women and children to advance their own greedy intentions. The sentences result in justice for the victim’s family and the community feel safer when perpetrators are incarcerated.”