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Read full document: State's closing arguments in Panayiotou murder trial

Oct 26, 2017
Read full document: State's closing arguments in Panayiotou murder trial

The State on Thursday morning presented its closing arguments in the long-running murder trial of Port Elizabeth businessman, Christopher Panayiotou, at the Port Elizabeth High Court, in Port Elizabeth.

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

Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, who is the alleged triggerman in the murder, died in custody after suffering a short illness at the St Albans Correctional Facility, just outside Port Elizabeth. 

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. 

Closing arguments

In its closing arguments, the State said that they have "now reached the stage where all the evidence has been placed before Court". 

"The State will argue that the events up to the point of the arrest of accused 1 [Christopher Panayiotou] point to a contract killing. This contract killing consisits of three stages to wit the preparation, execution and cover-up of the killing. It is therefore my submission that the count 3, kidnapping, forms an intergral part of the murder count, as the kidnapping took place in order to execute the contract killing.

"Similarly, it is my submission that count 7, defeating the course of justice, forms an intergral part of the greater plan to avoid detection/ arrest on the contract killing. This will therefore fall under the cover-up stage of the contract killing," State Prosecutor Marious Stander, said.

"It is further my submission that the State could not prove who, between Vumazonke and accused 3 [Nenembe], handled the fire-arm and therefore did not prove counts 5 and 6, the unlawful possession of the fire-arm and ammunition.

"I will therefore be focussing on counts 1, 2 and 4 during my argument. It is further my submission that count 1, conspiracy to commit murder, will only come into the picture if the Court were to find the State did not prove its case on count 4. The formulation of the charges were made ex abundanti cautela (out of extreme caution)."

Stander said that the summary of substantial facts, as contained in the indictment, the State’s case against the accused is set out fully.

Read State's Heads of Argument against Christopher Panayiotou and co Here