Panayiotou Judgment Live – HeraldLIVE
Judge Dayalin Chetty is expected to deliver his verdict in the case against Christopher Panayiotou and is co-accused in
PORT ELIZABETH – Judge Dayalin Chetty started summarising the evidence as he prepared to hand down judgment in the case of Christopher Panayiotou and his two co-accused at the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Judge Chetty had harsh words for state witness Luthando Siyoni, who had facilitated the police in recording an incriminating video of Panayiotou supposedly admitting culpability for the murder of his wife, but who later retracted his statement and claimed to have been tortured by police.
Summarising the evidence presented to him, Judge Chetty, called Siyoni’s claims of torture “a cocktail of lies and perjury.”
The judge also accepted the early statements made by Babalwa Breakfast, Siyoni’s girlfriend, even though she was later declared a hostile witness.
Breakfast had testified that Siyoni had received a bag full of money from Panayiotou, and also linked him to the alleged hitman Sizwe Vumazonke.
Although Breakfast later retracted her testimony, Judge Chetty said that her statement was so detailed, it could not have been manufactured by someone else.
The judge relied heavily on the video recording, which proved to be damning for Panayiotou.
The legalities or lack thereof of the recording were brushed aside by the judge, who found these technical issues to pale in comparison to what was revealed.
Panayiotou’s discussion about the ramifications of kidnapping Jayde, rather than killing her in front of their home and presenting the murder as a robbery gone wrong, proved particularly damaging for Panayiotou’s defence.
Panayiotou, who ironically celebrates his 31st birthday on The judgment day, was faced by a courtroom filled with ‘Justice for Jayde’ supporters, who will attend proceedings wearing black.
He is in the dock alongside his two co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolain Sibeko.
The trial against the accused has run for a period of 62 days, in a space of over a year.
At the trial-within-a-trial which was held to determine the admissibility of a secret video recording, State Advocate Marius Stander called a total of 17 witnesses.
At the main trial, the State called a total of 58 witnesses.
The State argued that Jayde’s murder was a “contract killing” which included three stages – the preparation, execution and cover up of the killing.
Stander alleges that Panayiotou had Jayde killed because he could no longer afford to keep his mistress, Chanelle Coutts, and wife happy.
Panayiotou was arrested in May 2015‚ after police recorded a conversation between him and Siyoni.
The secret video was subsequently ruled admissible and was aired in court.
In the video, the businessman chats to alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni, and seemingly implicates himself in his wife Jayde’s 2015 murder.
Siyoni was allegedly asked by his boss to recruit a hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke, to kidnap and kill the schoolteacher.
The bouncer has since recanted on his confession made to police.
Defence Advocate Terry Price has continually stated throughout the trial that Siyoni was “beaten into making a confession” further arguing that evidence was obtained unconstitutionally.
Price called 10 witnesses in total at the trial.
Throughout the trial Panayiotou has shown absolutely no emotion, remaining brass faced even when graphic images of Jayde’s bloody body was displayed on court projectors.
The State alleges that Nenembe assisted Vumazonke to kidnap and murder the teacher at the behest of her husband.
Vumazonke has since died. Sibeko has been named as the person who was allegedly asked to source a firearm for Jayde’s killing.
The three men face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlicensed possession of firearm and ammunition.
Panayiotou faces an additional charge of defeating the ends of justice.