From left accused Christopher Panayiotou with his parents and Defence Advocate Terry Price. PHOTO: Raahil Sain/ANA

In The News South Africa

Panayiotou case ‘dirtiest’ before a court of law, says defence

PORT ELIZABETH, October 31 – The only evidence against murder accused Christopher Panayiotou was that of the audio video recording taken in a car and no other direct evidence, his defence argued in its closing arguments before the Port Elizabeth High Court on Tuesday.
Panayiotou is charged alongside Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko for the murder of his schoolteacher wife Jayde in April 2015.
Defence Advocate Terry Price slammed the police and prosecution for the way in which the case was handled from the get go.
Price argued that alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni’s rights were trashed by police.
Price said that Siyoni was subjected to ill-treatment and improper pressure in implicating his boss.
“When evidence is obtained unconstitutionally it must be excluded and evidence was obtained unlawfully from Siyoni,” Price charged on Tuesday.
Price said trickery and deceit was exposed when Siyoni was arrested because the time of his arrest had been forged in the log book at Kabega Park police station.
He further argued that Siyoni was not a Section 204 witness at the time the undercover police operation took place.
“No one testified that Siyoni was warned in terms of a Section 204,” he said.
“At that point in time, Siyoni had not yet made a 204 statement and had not agreed to testify for the State so he entered that car in his capacity as a co-accused or a suspect.
“He was not an agent, he was an accused. Get in the car, implicate Christopher, implicate himself. Siyoni was shoved into this like a sardine, you implicate him or you dead.”
Price said that in all his years as a lawyer this was the “dirtiest case before a court of law, the State should come in with clean hands but the State’s hands were muddy from the start”.
“You Lordship may be forced to say that you may be guilty but the way the evidence has been gained forces me to apply this wonderful constitution,” Price added.
In the secret video Panayiotou is seen and heard chatting to Siyoni. The airing of the video at court was subject to a trial-within-a-trial and was subsequently ruled admissible. In the undercover sting operation Panayiotou allegedly paid Siyoni R4,550 and seemingly implicates himself in his wife’s murder. Panayiotou is accused of paying Siyoni, a bouncer from his Infinity nightclub, to hire Sizwe Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde.
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 charges against the three accused include conspiracy to commit murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. Panayiotou faces an additional charge of obstructing the course of justice.
The trial continues.
– African News Agency (ANA)

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