PORT ELIZABETH – The state is expected to respond in a bail application on new facts brought by murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou’s legal team in the Port Elizabeth magistrate’s court.
Earlier this week, State Prosecutor Marius Stander made it clear that he would argue that there were no new facts previously argued by Panayiotou’s lawyers.
Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife‚ Jayde, in April last year. It is alleged he paid a bouncer at his Infinity night club‚ Luthando Siyoni, to hire hitman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to kidnap and murder Jayde.
The state alleges that Sinethemba Nenembe assisted the alleged hitman Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde at the behest of her husband.
On Tuesday, defence advocate Terry Price poked holes at the state’s case and questioned the admissibility of Siyoni’s statements made to the police. Siyoni is now a section 204 witness.
This means that the court will grant him full indemnity from prosecution if it deems his testimony honest and reliable.
Price accused police of “severely beating” a confession out of Siyoni.
“He had informed various police officers that he had been assaulted. In the statement, Luthando Siyoni told Swanepoel again that he was assaulted by police officers… I’m baffled that Swanepoel did not take any of Siyoni’s claims to be investigated and I’m equally surprised that he did not see that Siyoni was taken to a doctor for his injuries.
“It was clear that Swanepoel was more interested in pressurising Siyoni to implicate him [Panayiotou].
“Luthando Siyoni waived his right to an attorney until he had completely implicated himself in his meeting..and then returned to the police station giving the police more than enough evidence to arrest not only [Panayiotou] but himself as well,” said Price.
Panayiotou’s affidavit further highlighted that Siyoni was possibly linked to drug dealing.
He indicated that the recordings of him allegedly discussing the hit on Jayde with Siyoni was meant to assist the police in that he was trying to squeeze information out of the bouncer.
“I was merely doing what police told me to do. Siyoni is the only witness who implicated me and by him doing so he escapes a life sentence..if he was not beaten, he would not implicate me..police abused the legal process… only after he implicated himself was he given a legal representative.”
This is Panayiotou’s third bail attempt.
He was initially denied bail in the Port Elizabeth magistrate’s court and then again in the Grahamstown High Court where he appealed that decision.
His first attempt for bail was denied by Magistrate Abigail Beeton. In her reasoning, Beeton cited that Panayiotou had an inclination to conceal or destroy evidence.
On Tuesday, Panayiotou slammed police officials for having searched his house without his consent. His affidavit further highlighted that he was not given a right to an attorney at the time of his arrest.
Panayiotou once again complained about the conditions at St Albans prison and said that he wanted to be able to consult with his lawyers in an air-conditioned room.
Price also went on to read affidavits provided by Panayiotou’s parents, Costa and Fanoula. They said that they loved Jayde and would make sure their son would stand trial.
“We are committed to PE, we derive our finances from our businesses in Port Elizabeth….We mourn Jayde’s death and we loved her dearly..We believe in Christopher’s innocence without a doubt.”
The court heard that since Panayiotou’s incarceration, his businesses had been suffering in that one business had to be closed down and two properties had to be sold.
The affidavit indicated that Panayiotou was not in possession of his Cypriot passport.
Price also said they wanted to look at the possibility of installing an ankle bracelet on Panayiotou if he were to be granted bail.