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Cellphone records issue halts #PanayiotouTrial

Crime & Courts
Port Elizabeth – The trial involving murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou was halted in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday, when defence counsel representing Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko brought an application for the court to reject the way in which the State intended to present evidence around cellphone plotting.

According to the State, cellphone plotting shows that Sibeko was with Vumazonke and Nenembe outside Jayde Panayiotou’s Stellen Glen complex in Kabega Park just five days before she was abducted, forced into the boot of a hired vehicle, then taken to remote area behind Kwanobuhle and murdered.

Jayde’s husband, Christopher Panayiotou, 29, the alleged mastermind behind the crime, was arrested shortly after her murder during April 2015.

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Christopher Panayiotou, the businessman alleged to have orchestrated his wife's death, at the Port Elizabeth High Court. File picture: Judy de Vega/AP

During court proceedings on Thursday, attorney Peter Daubermann, brought an application objecting to the way in which the State wanted to present its case on cell phone records.

Daubermann said the way in which this evidence would be presented was unconstitutional and would hinder his clients rights to a fair trial.

The case against Nenembe and Sibeko is almost exclusively based on cell phone records.

“The cell phone records are in possession of a third party, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. The accused don’t have access to these records there is no way in which they can prove these records are not accurate, they can’t challenge it,” said Daubermann.

However, Prosecutor Marius Stander, said the application was premature and that Nenembe and Sibeko’s defence could challenge the evidence presented before court.

“The accused can obtain the cell phone evidence, access to information act allows for it, if it is their own numbers. There is a way for them to verify with the service provider. They are not absolutely in the dark,” said Stander.

Judge Dayalin Chetty is expected to make his ruling on Monday.

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