Ricochet News

Panayiotou Trial: Cellphone data expert connects the dots  

BY JESICA SLABBERT - JUNE 20, 2017
Panayiotou Trial: Cellphone data expert connects the dots  

The trial of disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, continued in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday. The State called their next witness, Thereza Botha, a national data analyst an profiler, who specialises in court cases.

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

According to the State, Botha was brought in to paint the whole picture of the events leading up to Jadye’s murder - who may have been involved and where everything happened by utilising data from the cellphones of all involved - including those of the accused; from Jayde's cellphone, and from Panayiotou’s alleged mistress, Chanelle Coutts.

Botha has 15 years of experience in data profiling, can do crime threat analysis and has been trained on geographic information systems. She has also provided twenty years of service to the South African Police Service and the HAWKS.

“To test statements in an investigation, you need to compare the statements with facts. I can then determine if suspects played a role in series of events, and picture becomes clearer with geographical analysis,” Botha told the court.

She then proceeded to go over Jayde’s movements before her murder by tracing the location of her phone, and who she would communicate with and for how long.

Botha then moved onto Panayiotou’s cellphone data noting that whenever Jayde was visiting her parents or away from home for a period of time, he would make contact with his mistress Coutts. She said that there were also frequent calls to the OK Grocer that he owned and were Coutts worked.

The analyst also noted that Panayiotou had one phone, but used many SIM cards in the same device.

Botha then moved onto Coutt’s movements, and noted that her handset would often be found in the Panayiotou home whenever Jayde wasn’t there.

The focus was then placed on alleged middleman, Luthando Siyoni, and his calls and movements.

Botha went over the people contacted by Siyoni and the contacts on his phone that were alleged to be the first people he approached in order to carry out the hit on Jayde.

She said that the now-desceased alleged hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke’s movements and the contact made between him and Siyoni months before the murder.

Botha said that the first contact took place in November 2014 with all involved parties and was a lead up to Jayde’s murder.

There appeared to be a lot of calls made between Coutts and Panayiotou during this time and communication between Panayiotou and Siyoni was also frequent.

The trial continues.