Ricochet News

Siyoni makes brief court appearance

By Afikile Lugunya - Jul 4, 2018
Siyoni makes brief court appearance

Self-confessed middleman in the murder of Port Elizabeth teacher, Jayde Panayiotou, Luthando Siyoni, appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Wednesday where his a hearing on his bail was postponed.

The Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court refused him bail in June.

The court heard from the State Procecutor, Qondile Yelani, that the postonement is to allow for the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to make a decision on the case.

Thus, it was postponed to the 27th of July. 

Siyoni, who faces a murder charge, after he allegedly found a hitman to murder Jayde on behalf of her husband, Christopher Panayiotou, was arrested in May in Kwazakhele apparently after evading arrest for about six months.

The former bouncer at Panayiotou's night club denies he was on the run and told the court he was not even aware that local police were looking for him.

Siyoni was initially awarded immunity from prosecution as a key State witness, but while testifying in the trial of Panayiotou, he refused to answer any questions put to him by the State and was declared a hostile witness.

Judge Dayalin Chetty had revoked his immunity as a Section 204 witness in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth in November.

During the trial, Judge Chetty had criticised Siyoni's conduct and even accused him of making up his testimony in order to help Panayiotou's defence team.

The State has argued extensively against his release from custody calling Siyoni a liar and a flight risk.

How it happened

On 21st April 2015, Jade Panayiotou, who was 28 years old and worked as a school teacher in Uitenhage, disappeared and was last seen outside her residence in Deacon Road Kabega Park. She was waiting for her lift to her school in Uitenhage.

Police were alerted of her disappearance and an immediate manhunt was conducted by various police units assisted by members of the community in search of Jade Panayiotou.

On 22nd April 2015, her body was found in bushes in Kwanobuhle, outside Uitenhage. She had been shot three times in her chest, arm and head.

Between 27th April and 1st May 2015, three suspects including her husband, Christopher, were taken into police custody. 

Two suspects were later arrested.

In September 2016, the alleged hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke (30) passed away at Livingstone Hospital while awaiting trial.

Alleged middleman, Siyoni, was released in September 2016 after been held in custody in terms of Section 185 of the Criminal Procedure Act (he believed that his life was in danger, but did not want to enter into the Witness Protection programme).

On 2nd November 2017, after a lengthy trial the three remaining accused were found guilty in the Port Elizabeth High Court. Christopher Panayiotou (31) was convicted for murder, Sinethemba Nemembe (28) was convicted for murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances and Zolani Sibeko (35) was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. 

The accused were sentenced as follows:

  • Christopher Panayiotou:  Murder: Life sentence
  • Sinethemba Nemembe:  Murder:  Life sentence and Robbery: 15 years. Robbery sentence will run concurrent with the murder sentence
  • Zolani Sibeko:  Conspiracy to commit murder:   15 years imprisonment.