Ricochet News

Panayiotou murder suspect's bail bid fails in Port Elizabeth High Court

By Jesica Slabbert - Dec 12, 2016
Panayiotou murder suspect's bail bid fails in Port Elizabeth High Court

The Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday denied bail for Zolani Sibeko, who is alleged to have assisted disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, in the kidnapping and murder of his wife, Jayde, in April last year.

"I am of the view that applicant did not give any special circumstances as to why he should be granted bail, therefore the application has been denied," said the presiding judge.

Sibeko first appeared in the Port Elizabeth High Court on the 6th of December and claimed that the State had no solid evidence against him and that the only evidence the prosecutors have against him was cell phone mapping.

However, during the bail application proceedings, a surprise witness appeared, Khusta Vandala, who claimed that Sibeko had approached him and asked him for help in acquiring a firearm in order to shoot Jayde.

State prosecutor, Marius Stander, stated that the State would be relying on Vandala’s testimony, as well as Sibeko’s cell phone billing and a tracking report of the vehicle that was apparently used in the hit, in order to prove the charges against him.

The ruling comes after the Panayiotou trial, which began in October, has been postponed until April 2017.

No stranger to breaking the law

Sibeko, who initially insisted his surname is Roxo, became the fifth suspect to be arrested in connection with the murder of Jayde, when he was arrested by Port Elizabeth police in July this year to face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, and abduction.

The 35 year-old, who also has an arrest warrant out for him for another alleged crime, was picked up by police at his parents' home in Greenbushes, Port Elizabeth.

Police claimed that through their investigations, including cellphone plotting, they placed Sibeko with alleged triggerman, who has since died, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, and another suspect - apparently a relative of Vumazonke, Sinethemba Nenembe, on the day that they allegedly scouted Jayde's route to her school. 

Cellphone plotting also placed Sibeko at the Stellen Glenn complex, in Kabega Park, at the time that the alleged kidnapping of Jayde took place with Vumazonke and Nenembe.

Nenembe, who was 28 at the time of his arrest in October 2015, was actually in police custody for another murder in Port Elizabeth, when police uncovered his link to the Panayiotou case.

"The suspect was already in custody at the St Albans Correctional Facility in Port Elizabeth in connection with the murder of 72 year old Denise Webber on 20 August 2015 in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth when detectives uncovered evidence that positively linked him to the Panayioutou murder," police described then.