Port Elizabeth - Secret recorded conversations between a cop and a Panayiotou family friend talking about a life policy worth millions of rands Christopher had apparently taken out in his wife’s name were aired in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.
Under cross examination Detective Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen took to the witness box for the second day in the eighth week of the ongoing murder trial involving Panayiotou and his two co- accused.
Panayiotou, Sinethembe Nemembe and Zolani Sibeko are charged with the murder of Panayiotou’s schoolteacher wife Jayde Panayiotou during April last year.
A trial-within-a-trial is currently underway which aims to deal with the admissibility of a video recording between alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni and Panayiotou during an undercover police sting operation on April 29, last year.
Defence advocate Terry Price SC accused Eksteen of being “malicious” for speculating about a life policy in Jayde’s name.
“I want to refer you to another transcript. Here you talk to Phillip Vosloo, where you talk of a policy. The policy is apparently from R3.5 million to R6 million? Where does this information come from?” asked Price.
Eksteen could not clearly recall the conversation and dismissed it as a minor conversation relating only to speculation.
“Maybe there was information I received, that’s why I mentioned it,” said Eksteen.
Prince responded saying: “The reason I am asking is that this was in the newspapers that Chris would benefit from a life insurance policy of R6 million.”
Price was adamant that the recorded conversations showed that Eksteen was “malicious” and went on to refer to another recorded conversation where Eksteen promised the Panayiotous their son had not been set up.
While Eksteen was not initially involved in the investigation he later became part of the team and was responsible for facilitating calls Siyoni made to Panayiotou in the run up to the police sting operation.
It would appear that the secret recorded conversation took place after the businessman was arrested for his wife’s murder.
Eksteen and the Panayiotous were family friends for a period of 16 years, prior to Jayde’s killing. The families have since become estranged around the time of Christopher’s arrest.
Earlier in the day the court heard that Christopher’s father Costa, “wanted to write him off” after discovering his son was having an illicit affair with Chanelle Coutts.
But Price hit back at the officer saying Costa did not have a will and drew upon the unlikelihood of disinheritance.
Eksteen told the court that he heard Costa saying: “I don’t want anything to do with him (Christopher).”
Price put it to the detective that Costa had made two statements denying that those conversations ever took place.
Eksteen insisted that the conversations did in fact take place and he interpreted Costa’s words as meaning disinheritance.
“Costa said he was avoiding Christopher because of the Chanelle issue, and that he would write them off,” Eksteen said.
The State alleges that Panayiotou orchestrated his wife’s murder because she was a “financial burden”.
The trial continues on Wednesday.