Week two: Panayiotou murder trial roundup
The second week of the Panayiotou murder trial was filled with technical evidence and some of the state’s key witnesses were left fumbling for words as the defence cast doubt on their credibility. FROM THE PROSECUTION:• Sangoma Zoleka Zekani said a “shaking and shivering” Sizwezakhe Vumazonke (alleged triggerman) came to see her on the morning of April 21 last year. She said Vumazonke asked her to “wash” him but she refused on the basis of what he had told her.• The dramatic details of Vumazonke’s arrest were revealed for the first time‚ when a policeman explaining how the accused hit his head on the door of a police van when he tried to resist. This apparently resulted in a swollen eye.• Jayde Panayiotou’s family were in tears and left the court when a photograph of Jayde’s body in an abandoned field in KwaNobuhle was shown to the court.• Warrant Officer Paul Franks‚ of the South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 Unit‚ said they searched for Jayde’s body in the KwaNobuhle area on April 22 after a resident reported hearing three gun shots.• Captain Gideon Olivier of the SAPS Ballistics Unit demonstrated to the court how Jayde’s shooter must have stood over her body when he fired the final shot to her head.• Nedbank employee Estelle Burger said Christopher Panayiotou phoned her the day of Jayde’s disappearance asking her to assist him in tracking movement on Jayde’s account. She said she refused on the basis that Panayiotou did not have signing power on his wife’s account.• John Best‚ operational service manager at Atlas Security at the time‚ said the Infinity Cocktail Bar alarm was deactivated by user 001 at 11.25pm on April 21‚ when the state claims Panayiotou fetched money to pay middleman Luthando Siyoni. User 001 is Panayiotou’s code.• A former employee of OK Grocer‚ Mawonga Ndedwa‚ said Panayiotou had used his cellphone numerous times to call Siyoni in the two weeks prior to Jayde’s murder. He said after April 21‚ Panayiotou gave him R1 000 and asked him to destroy the phone. On another occasion‚ Ndedwa claimed Panayiotou asked him to give R30 000 in cash to Siyoni.FROM THE DEFENCE:• Zekani’s evidence relating to what Vumazonke told her the day of the murder was ruled as hearsay following Vumazonke’s death and was therefore not revealed to court.• Defence advocate Terry Price accused the policeman who arrested Vumazonke‚ Constable Thapelo Mabija‚ of assaulting Vumazonke.• When Vumazonke was arrested at 1.30am on May 3 last year‚ he was first taken to Despatch‚ between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage‚ and only booked in at the Kabega Park police station in Port Elizabeth some four hours later.• Price said Burger was not being truthful because she was scared of getting into trouble with the bank‚ and that she had helped Panayiotou to track his wife’s account “out of the goodness of her heart”.• It emerged in cross-examination that Ndedwa was fired from OK for theft. He allegedly tried to use the phone Panayiotou had asked him to destroy to extort money from Panayiotou’s mother‚ Fanoula.