PORT ELIZABETH: Murdered schoolteacher Jayde Panayiotou’s mother, Michelle Inggs, and her sister Toni broke into tears in the high court in Port Elizabeth on Monday when the prosecution displayed a graphic picture of the 28-year-old’s lifeless body shortly after it was discovered.
Prosecutor Marius Stander showed the photograph of Jayde – wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt, lying face up in bushes in an open veld in the township of KwaNobuhle near Uitenhage – while questioning a State witness in the murder trial of the schoolteacher's husband, Christopher Panayiotou, and his two co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko.
“Justice for Jayde” supporters seated in the third row of the public gallery were in tears and gasped as the picture was shown.
State witness Paul Franks, who was involved with the police's search and rescue K-9 unit, confirmed to the court that this was the area where he had discovered Jayde’s body on April 22 last year.
Franks said the search was initially called off on April 21, but continued the next day when police received information that three shots had been fired in the area.
Franks recalled the moment the Uitenhage schoolteacher's body was discovered.
“In the search for the deceased, helicopters circled the area and a crew member pointed towards a bushy area. I immediately went to the spot.”
Franks added that the crime scene had not been tampered with.
It is alleged that Christopher paid Luthando Siyoni, a bouncer at his Infinity nightclub, to hire hitman Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde.
The State alleges that Sinethemba Nenembe assisted Vumazonke to kidnap and murder Jayde at the behest of her husband.
The State alleges that Jayde was shot twice in the back and once in the head.
Siyoni has since turned State witness while Vumazonke has died.
Sibeko was the last person to be arrested, 15 months after the murder.
He has apparently been linked to the crime through cellphone mapping, having been outside Jayde’s Stellen Glen complex in the days before her murder.
However, his alleged role in the events leading up to the murder are still unclear.
The trial continues.