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Hawks head grilled in #PanayiotouTrial

Crime & Courts
Port Elizabeth – The murder trial involving Christopher Panayiotou and his two co-accused resumed in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday. A trial-within-a-trial was currently underway to determine the admissibility of a video recording in which Panayiotou allegedly implicated himself.

The businessman is accused of masterminding the abduction and murder of his school teacher wife Jayde, in April 2015. On Wednesday, the State called Lieutenant Colonel Audrey Till, who at the time of Panayiotou's arrest was the acting commander of the polices Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) in Port Elizabeth.

Till who was present during Panayiotou's arrest, told the court that the businessman was mute when police swooped in on him at a home in Uitenhage, just days after his wife's killing.

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Lieutenant Colonel Audrey Till was grilled by the defence in Panayiotou trial. Picture: Raahil Sain/ANAPicture: Raahil Sain/ANA

Till said that the investigating officer, Captain Kanna Swanepoel, read Panayioutou's rights – but Panayiotou refused to say anything or sign any documentation. "[Outside the house] there was a search of a vehicle in which a cellphone was found in the front panel of the car," said Till.

Till told the court at the time of Panayiotou's arrest – his father was the only family member present. Till, Swanepoel and Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen together with Panayiotou proceeded to the Stellen Glen Complex in Kabega Park where a search took place and items were seized from the couple's home, according to her testimony.

Under cross-examination, defence advocate Terry Price, put it to Till that Panayiotou was never warned of his rights and his father, Costa, would testify to that. Price further criticised police methods, in that Panayiotou refused to sign in Swanepoel's pocket book that he had been warned of his rights.

Picture: Raahil Sain/ANA

"But Swanepoel does not say that in either of his affidavits...," argued Price.

The defence questioned if Panayiotou had waived his right to an attorney – arguing how was it possible if he did not speak at the time of his arrest. Price went on to lambaste Till for being unaware of a recorded interview and transcripts of when Panayiotou's bouncer, Luthando Siyoni, was taken by police to the Hawks offices.

Till said she had observed Siyoni at the offices and perceived him to have been in a "sober sound" state of mind at the time. She told the court she never mentioned the interview in her affidavit as she felt it was "not relevant".

"So no one told you they were recording him? You who are head of the unit were not aware of it?" asked Price.

Till said that she had only become aware of the recording on Wednesday.

The State alleges that Sinethemba Nenembe assisted Sizwe Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde at the behest of her husband. Vumazonke, who was the alleged hitman between Siyoni and other hitman has since died.

Jayde was driven to a remote area on the outskirts of Kwanobuhle where the alleged murder took place. The State contends Vumazonke fired two shot through her back and one shot through her head.

Zolani Sibeko was the last suspect to be arrested, he was apparently placed through cell phone mapping to being present outside her townhouse complex in the days before her murder. The case was postponed until Friday.

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