Port Elizabeth - The self preservation in Christopher Panayiotou caused him to make the calls to middleman Luthando Siyoni, which resulted in a video that implicated him in his wife Jayde's murder, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard on Thursday.
Following a mammoth trial Judge Dayalin Chetty found the businessman guilty of murdering his school teacher wife in April 2015.
Sinethemba Nenembe was found guilty on charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances and Zolani Sibeko was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
The State called it a contract killing and Chetty found there was no doubt that Jayde was "executed".
In the police video, Chetty said that it was clear Panayiotou was complicit in his wife's killing. It was the dialogue in the explosive video in which Panayiotou candidly discusses his wife’s murder with Siyoni just days after she was kidnapped and executed.
Chetty said that it was in this discussion that he found his complicity in Jayde’s murder beyond all reasonable doubt.
The two met at a petrol station in Algoa Park on April 29, 2015, just eight days after Jayde’s murder.
Chetty said that the intricacies of a murderous conspiracy were laid bare by Panayiotou's forewarning in the vehicle.
“Somebody said something. Ja, [yes] because it’s a murder thing now, it’s not like a robbery or something . . . it became a kidnapping and a murder instead of just making it a robbery outside the house.”
Chetty said that Panayiotou's admission in the vehicle vouchsafed the truthfulness of the narrative in both Babalwa Breakfast and Siyoni’s police statements and demystified his "concocted defence".
Section 204 witness Siyoni and his girlfriend had both recanted on their police statements in their testimony at the trial within a trial.
Chetty further highlighted a "telling comment" from Panayiotou : "I told you to let them do it outside the house and take the bags and the rings and they they didn’t take the watch or anything.”
Jayde’s body was discovered in a veld, her watch was still on her left wrist and her bracelet on her right wrist. Chetty said the presence of these items of jewellery no doubt perturbed Panayiotou.
The judge found the Panayiotou's entire case was predicated upon the defence's claim that Siyoni was tortured into making a confession.
However, the court found that Siyoni was not beaten by police and he was instead labelled an "unadulterated liar".
Turning to Nenembe and Sibeko, Chetty looked at circumstantial evidence of cell phone records and data analysis .
The court found that Nenembe was in the vehicle with hitman Sizwe Vumazonke. This is what the State called "scouting" for Jayde in the days before her killing.
The day of the killing on April 21, 2015, data established who was in the vehicle and Nenembe's complicity in the murder was beyond a reasonable doubt, the court heard.
The court also found that Sibeko was in the Etios with Vumazonke in the day's before the schoolteacher's murder was carried out. The court accepted evidence that Sibeko communicated several times Vumazonke.
Chetty said the fact that it cannot be proved that Sibeko was present during the shooting, was entirely irrelevant. Chetty found that Sibeko was part of a conspiratorial agreement. He said that the scheme required a collaborative effort, and Sibeko and Vumazonke together over a four day period showed that he shared a common desire.
"The sheer audaciousness of their mandate required a collaborative effort and their presence in and about the deceased’s home and places frequented by her attest to the common purpose shared by them, viz to kill the deceased," Chetty said.
"When a conspiratorial agreement is made an offence of conspiracy is made. So long as performance continues, the person who joins it is equally guilty."
Pre-sentencing proceedings take place on November 17.