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'Every dirty trick imaginable' pulled on Panayiotou and co-accused: Lawyer

By Jesica Slabbert - Oct 31, 2017
'Every dirty trick imaginable' pulled on Panayiotou and co-accused: Lawyer

It was a full house at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday, as Defence Advocate Terry Price gave his closing argument in the murder trial of disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou.

The State, led by Prosecutor, Marius Stander, presented its closing arguments on Thursday last week.

Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the kidnaping and murder of his wife, Jayde, in April 2015. He faces the charges along with his alleged accomplices, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko.

Throughout the trial, the Defence has sought to prove that, at best, the evidence presented by the State in court is flawed and was illegally obtained. 

In Price’s argument on Tuesday, he stated that the State’s methods for obtaining evidence were "muddied" and that throughout his entire legal career, this case has been the "dirtiest case I have ever seen brought before the courts".

Price then stated that many of the officers involved in the case, including Investigating Officer, Kanna Swanepoel, have been lying to the court about the procedure in which they conducted the sting operation as well as their treatment of alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni.

He said that the injuries found on both Siyoni and alleged hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke, were downplayed in court.

Vumazonke died from a sudden illness at the St Albans Prison in 2016.

Price then accused the State of mistreating their own witnesses, including Siyoni’s girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, and Panayiotou’s Mistress, Chanelle Coutts.

“My submission is that, from, at the very least, 27 April 2015 to now, every dirty trick imaginable has been pulled on these accused,” said Price.

“It's sad if this court is forced to say you may be guilty, but due to manner in which evidence was obtained, I'm forced to acquit you.”

The Defence advocate for Nenembe and Sibeko, Peter Daubermann, will also be presenting his closing argument on Tuesday.

The judgement date is expected to be announced at the end of Daubermann’s argument.

Read the Defence's Closing Argument HERE.

You can also read the Defence's replies to the State's closing arguments HERE, HEREand HERE.

State's case

It is alleged that Panayiotou, paid Luthando Siyoli, 31, a bouncer at his nightclub in Algoa Park, R75 000 to hire Vumazonke, 30, for the murder.

Vumazonke, with assistance, bundled Jayde into the boot of her car - to make it look like a hijacking, outside the Panayiotous' Kabega Park home, before driving her to KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, where he apparently shot her point blank and dumped her body there, where it was later discovered.

While the search for her ensued, images were circulated apparently showing Vumazonke withdrawing money from several ATMs from Jayde's account.

More suspects

Late in October 2015, Nenembe, 28, who is related to Vumazonke, was also linked to the case, after police arrested him for the murder of 72 year old Denise Webber on 20 August 2015 in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth.

Another suspect, Zolani Sibeko, who previously claimed that his surname was Roxo, also appeared with the other accused in court.

He was arrested in July 2016 in Greenbushes connection with Jayde's murder.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), police used cellphone plotting and placed Sibeko outside the Panayiotou's Stellen Glen complex at the time that Vumazonke and Nenembe allegedly kidnapped Jayde.

Panayiotou and his alleged accomplices have been languishing at the St Albans Prison after the courts twice denied him bail.

He is legally represented by Advocate Terry Price, instructed by Alwyn Griebenow, while Nenembe and Sibeko are legally represented by Peter Dauberman.

Incriminating video

In June this year, a secret video that incriminates Panayiotou in the murder of his wife was ruled as admissable by the Port Elizabeth High Court.

In the recording Panayiotou is seen getting into a car, that he was not aware had been electronically wired with video and audio recording equipment, to meet and talk to alleged middleman and former key State witeness, who has since been declared hostile, Luthando Siyoni.

Siyoni's girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast, was also declared a hostile witness.