Panayiotou may learn his fate on his 31st birthday

Port Elizabeth – Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou may learn his fate on his 31st birthday when Judge Dayalin Chetty delivers his judgment in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday. 

Following the conclusion of closing arguments on Tuesday, Chetty said that he would deliver his verdict within the next two days. 

It is not clear how long the judgment will run for as there is voluminous amounts of evidence expected to be summarised. 

Last year, Panayiotou and family members celebrated his birthday with cake and pre-ordered meals at the court’s holding cells. 

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are charged with conspiring to kidnap and murder the businessman’s schoolteacher wife Jayde on April 21, 2015. The trial got underway in May last year. 

Jayde Panayiotou’s body was found a day after she was kidnapped in Kabega Park in April 2015.
File picture: Facebook

Defence attorney, Peter Daubermann argued that the fact that Nenembe, Sibeko and since deceased alleged hitman Sizwe Vumazonke had communicated with each other, said nothing about the content of those communications. 

“There is no evidence before the court with regard to the relationship between [Nenembe, Sibeko and Vumazonke] and why they may have been communicating with one another,” said Daubermann. 

Daubermann argued that the State had relied purely on circumstantial evidence “speculation and imaginary scenarios” when it came to his clients Nenembe and Sibeko. Daubermann further argued that there was no evidence to the effect that Sibeko was aware of any conspiracy. 

“There is no evidence placing [Nenembe and Sibeko] in the vehicle that was used to kidnap the deceased. Even if the court finds that [Sibeko] travelled with [Vumazonke] and [Nenembe] to the deceased’s residence on the 15th and 16th of April 2015 in the Toyota Etios…the mere fact that he did so does not prove that he agreed to commit any crime,” Daubermann argued. 

He said that if Sibeko did initially participate in the execution of the alleged hit, he clearly dissociated himself by discontinuing his collaboration. In the indictment the State did not allege that Sibeko was present on April 21, 2015, when the schoolteacher was kidnapped outside her home. 

Daubermann said that the State witnesses called to analyse the cellphone billing records of the men, were not experts. 

The State had used cellphone data analysis seeking to prove that Nenembe and Sibeko were complicit in the commission of Jayde’s murder, by way of measuring the location and movement of their cell phones at various times in the run up to Jayde’s killing. 

Daubermann then referred to scientific resources, citing Professor R P Coutts, on why the State’s cellphone data analysis could not be deemed as reliable.

“Ms Thereza Botha is, also by her own admission, not an expert on cellphone networks and is, accordingly not qualified to express any opinion on the location or movement of the cellphones in question,” he said. 

The case was postponed to Thursday. 

African News Agency 

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