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Panayiotou murder trial: Defence expected to wrap up arguments

Oct 31, 2017
Panayiotou murder trial: Defence expected to wrap up arguments

The Defence in the murder trial of disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, is expected to present its closing arguments in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday after the State did the same on Thursday last week.

Panayiotou and his alleged co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, are accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of his wife Jayde in April 2015.

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

State's argument 

On Thursday, State Prosecutor, Marius Stander, asked the court to find Panayiotou and his co-accused, guilty of the charges against them, which included premediated murder and defeating the ends of justice.

Stander went over the various points made in his argument, highlighting evidence given throughout the trial from the State witnesses and physical evidence produced.

Stander stated that after taking in all the evidence, it is clear that a contract killing was took place and Jayde was the victim.

He also stated that the State proved the correctness of the car tracking reports and insisted that the court can rely on them.

Stander then went on to the evidence from alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, and his girlfriend Babalwa Breakfast.

He said that Siyoni is a blatant liar, and that he even lied to his own attorney. Both Siyoni and Breakfast were declared hostile witnesses last year; Siyoni was a 204 State witness at the time.

Stander stated that Siyoni’s statement should be ignored altogether.

He then proceeded to go over evidence that referred to the alleged hitman, the late Sizwe Vumazonke.

Vumazonke died in custody after suffering from a short illness at the St Albans Correctional Facility, just outside Port Elizabeth. 

“The court will find that Vumazonke played an integral part in the killing and preparation of the contract killing of the deceased,” said Stander.

The amount of evidence pertaining to Vumazonke, in Stander’s argument, was very extensive and overwhelming.

Stander stated that Vumazonke had been involved with every aspect of the crime, and was involved since as early as the 1st of April 2015.


He also stated that the court needs to make the finding that Siyoni was also involved in Jayde’s murder due to his involvement in allegedly acquiring a hitman for Panayiotou.

Stander then dealt with the evidence from Mawonga Ndedwa, a former employee at the OK Grocer once owned by the Panayiotou’s.

He said admitted that although Mawonga was a bad witness, the court cannot ignore that his evidence tells a story. That Panayiotou was using his phone to communicate with Siyoni, and after the murder, communication suddenly ceased.

Mawonga also claimed to have stumbled on a bag with money that might have been used to pay off Vumazonke.

Stander then stated that Panayiotou has a pattern of trying to get rid of communication evidence as he instructed both Mawonga and Siyoni to destroy their sim cards after Jayde’s murder.

In ending, Stander asked the court to charge both Panayiotou and Zolani Sibeko with murder, while requesting that Sinethemba Nenembe be charged with murder as well as aggravated robbery.

Defence Advocate, Terry Price, who represents Panayiotou, and Peter Daubermann, who represents Nenembe and Sibeko, will be presenting their arguments to the court on Tuesday.