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Panayiotou murder trial – Kanna Swanepoel finally appears on the stand

Panayiotou murder trial – Kanna Swanepoel finally appears on the stand

The trial of murder accused Christopher Panayiotou resumed at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.

The Port Elizabeth businessman and his co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, are accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of his wife Jayde in April 2015. All three have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The trial, still in the middle of the 'trial within a trial' process, took a dramatic turn as the long awaited witness, Investigating Officer Kanna Swanepoel, took to the stand to give his testimony of events.

State prosecutor, Marius Stander, began by questioning Swanepeol on his involvement with the case.

“I can’t recall exactly the date I became the investigating officer, but it was about three days after,” said Swanepoel when asked when he became involved in the case.

Swanepoel stated that the reason he took over the case from detective Constable Aldre Koen was due to a decision made by provincial commissioner, McLaren.

Stander then referred to the arrest that occurred on the 27th of April by Colonel Mayi, and asked Swanepoel if he was involved or aware that an immediate arrest would take place.

Swanepoel stated that he was not involved as he was not the investigating officer at that stage. He also stated that he had no idea that there would be an arrest.

At this point the relationship between alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni and Swanepoel was brought up.

Swanepoel was asked if he had had any prior contact with Siyoni before he was booked into the Kabega Park station, to which Swanepoel said no.

Stander then asked where Swanepoel met Siyoni for the first time.

“At our offices, in the office of the commanding officer,” said Swanepoel.

“At that stage were you aware that Siyoni had already made a confession before a police officer?” questioned Stander.

“That is correct,” stated Swanepoel.

Swanepoel was then asked to relay the events that happened from that point on.

“He (Siyoni) told me that he had made the confession and added that, although he made the confession, he was not going to take the fall for someone else's actions,” said Swanepoel.

He stated that before he even took Siyoni’s name and surname he read him his rights.

After informing Siyoni that all the evidence pointed to him, Siynoi made the suggestion that he contact Panayiotou so that Swanepoel could hear for himself that Siyoni was not responsible.

After Swanepoel warned Siyoni that the calls could be used against him Siyoni indicated that he still wanted to proceed.

“The only purpose of the calls was to get collaboration of what he had already told me. Before we proceeded, I sought legal advice regarding him making the calls to Panayiotou. I spoke to an advocate in Grahamstown,” said Swanepoel.

 “The intent of the conversation was that hopefully Mr Panayiotou would implicate himself. The intention was never to lure Panayiotou or entrap him,” stated Swanepoel.

Stander then asked if at any point he assaulted Siyoni to make the phone calls or get anyone to threaten him, to which Swanepoel denied.

Stander then questioned how the calls were made.

“My official police phone was used, with the caller ID blocked so that it would show as a private number,” said Swanepoel.

The phone record showing the calls between Panayiotou and Siyoni was then displayed, 13 calls were made and one sms was sent to Panayiotou, of which only five were answered by Panayiotou and one by Donovan Vosloo. The sms was sent from Siyoni’s own phone and not Swanepoels which was used to make the calls.

Stander then asked as to why the sms was sent from Siyoni’s phone.

“With the calls we never got anywhere. And there was not a concrete conversation with Panayiotou to make him aware of what was happening, so we wanted to make Mr Panayiotou aware of the situation with Mr Siyoni so that was the reason we sent the sms,” said Swanepoel.

Swanepoel then relayed the sequence of events that took place in order for them to contact and arrange a meeting with Panayiotou.

When a meeting was finally arranged between Siyoni and Panayiotou, they agreed to meet at an Engen garage in Algoa Park. Swanepoel was not there for the meeting but he was provided the video footage that was taken at the time.

Once they had the necessary evidence they found out that Panayiotou was staying at his parent house in Uitenhage and they proceeded to go there for his arrest.

Panayiotou was led out of the house and was told that he was under arrest for murder and read his rights. After receiving permission Swanepoel searched his car, a Fiesta, where a cell phone that was used to contact Siyoni was found. He refused to sign any entry that Swanpoel made.

Once Stander was done questioning Swanepoel, Defence advocate Terry Price requested that the proceedings stand down for the day and that he question Swanepoel on Wednesday and continue with the three other state witnesses.

Stander stated that he could maybe get two of the witnesses at court today by 2pm, but would not promise anything.