Port Elizabeth – Jayde Panayiotou was lonely and often waited up for husband Christopher to come home, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard on Tuesday.
Jayde’s friend and colleague Cherise Swanepoel was recalled as a witness on the fifth day of the murder trial against Panayiotou and his two co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko.
Swanepoel was Jayde’s good friend and colleague at Riebeek College in nearby Uitenhage and on the morning of her kidnapping, Jayde had been waiting for Swanepoel to give her a lift to work. The friends would lift club to the school which is situated about a thirty minute drive from Port Elizabeth.
On Tuesday, Swanepoel told the court that she was aware of the state of the couple’s marriage as the two friends would at times talk about it.
“I think [Jayde] was frustrated and she was not 100 percent happy..she loved Chris very very much. She voiced to me on a daily basis that she was very lonely, Chris didn’t make time for her [and] he was always working,” said Swanepoel.
Swanepoel said that Jayde tried to address the problems in her marriage and made the effort to reach out to Christopher, she said she would often hear phone call conversations between the couple.
“She would call Christopher to ask if he would be home for dinner, she would find a reason to drop things off for him,” she said.
She also added that the school teacher would at times try and wait up for Christopher, “she felt like he never saw her dressed up” and was “always working”.
Swanepoel said that “Jayde’s loneliness” was a daily occurrence and also recalled a time she told Christopher that instead of buying a present for Jayde’s birthday he should rather spend time with her.
Swanepoel said that when she told Jayde about the conversation, she “burst into tears”.
It is alleged that Panayiotou paid Luthando Siyoni, a bouncer from his Infinity nightclub, to hire alleged triggerman, Sizwe 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. Siyoni has since turned state witness while Vumazonke has died.
Panayiotou and his co-accused face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. The men have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
Panayiotou, who was arrested shortly after his wife’s murder more than a year ago, faces an additional charge of defeating the ends of justice.