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In The News South Africa

Panayiotou’s mother shows much interest in murder trial of German couple

PORT ELIZABETH, August 16 – Christopher Panayiotou’s mother, Fanoula, has on several occasions been spotted closely following the trial of a German couple, accused of murdering Thornhill farmer Claus Schroeder, in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Jens Leunberg and Kristina Adler are accused of defrauding Schroeder out of millions of rands through the sale of his Thornhill farm in 2009. The couple allegedly forged a bank guarantee for the initial purchase price of R8.5 million.

The have both pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and murder. The ongoing trial against them resumed in the Port Elizabeth High Court earlier this week.

Schroeder disappeared on August 14, 2009, and his body has never been discovered. The State alleges the couple convinced the Schroeders they had the money to make the purchase on the property.

Leunberg and Adler allegedly forged bank documents showing that the money was in their account. According to the State, Leunberg murdered Schroeder on the Thornhill farm and disposed of his body after Schroeder confronted him about money owed for the farm’s purchase.

State advocate Marius Stander is prosecuting the case and is also prosecuting Panayiotou’s ongoing murder trial which is set to continue next month.

In a bizarre twist, Fanoula Panayiotou was seen chatting to Leunberg during a brief court adjournment on Wednesday.

When approached by ANA on reasons she was interested in the trial, she responded: “I’m just interested in the case, can’t I be? I’m a member of the public it’s interesting,” she said.

Asked if she was not tired of the courts considering that her son’s murder trial was on recess, she said that she was not.

“You don’t get tired when it comes to your child,” she said.

During April this year it emerged in court that Christopher Panayiotou’s mistress, Chanelle Coutts visited him at prison with the knowledge that this was not allowed. In addition, according to testimony from the investigating officer, Kanna Swanepoel, Coutts wrote down in the visitation book that she was visiting Leunberg at St Albans prison.

“But why did she write in the visitation book that she was visiting another murder accused, Jens Leunberg?” Swanepoel asked at the time.

At the time advocate Terry Price SC, retorted that the Panayiotou family were assisting Leunberg as his family resided in Germany.

The case against the German couple has been ongoing for more than seven years.

Panayiotou  and his co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are charged with conspiring to kidnap and kill school teacher Jayde Panayiotou in April 2015.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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