Jayde and Christopher Panayiotou
Jayde and Christopher Panayiotou

Jayde murder case: robbery ruled out

By Emily Huizenga Time of article published May 1, 2015

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Port Elizabeth - The murder and abduction case of Port Elizabeth teacher Jayde Panayiotou took a dramatic twist on Friday as police announced a “major breakthrough” in the case with the arrest of two suspects - one of whom is understood to be close to her.

Eastern Cape police revealed at a press conference they had ruled out robbery as a motive for the murder and were now instead investigating a conspiracy to commit murder.

Panayiotou, 28, was laid to rest after an emotional service on Monday.

She was allegedly abducted outside her Kabega Park home last Tuesday and her body was discovered dumped outside KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage the following day. She had been shot dead.

Police said in a statement on Friday that they had made a “major breakthrough” in the murder investigation which shocked the PE Metro last week.

In a statement, police said: “The South African Police Service detective team assigned to the murder investigation of Ms Jayde Panayiotou has arrested two suspects.

“The one suspect, Thando Siyoli 31, was arrested during the week in Kwazakele Township in Port Elizabeth and he has appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s court on (Thursday) morning.

“The case was remanded to the 7th of May 2015 and he will remain in custody until then.

“The second suspect was arrested late last night in Uitenhage and the 28-year-old male will appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s court on Monday, 4 May 2015,” police said.

“There is a prima facie case against the two suspects and robbery has been ruled out as the motive for the murder.

“The Detective Team consisting of Local Detectives, Hawks, Crime Intelligence and the NPA have been congratulated with the breakthrough and will continue with the investigation.”

Eastern Cape detective head Brigadier Gary McLaren told the Cape Argus on Friday that he could not confirm how one of the suspects was connected to Panayiotou.

But the Cape Argus spoke to the lawyer representing the man connected to Panayiotou, who said the family called him immediately after the man was arrested at his father’s house late on Wednesday night and requested his services.

Attorney Alwyn Griebenauw said his client was currently detained at Mount Road Police Station but had not yet been formally charged.

“I have been informed that the State will be opposing bail,” Griebenauw said.

“I have consulted him briefly, regarding the probability of bail.

“I would not like to confirm his relationship with Jayde.

”I have noted that there are a number of news articles on the internet which have named him.”

Griebenauw said police made the arrest based on information they had received.

Last on Friday, police released pictures of Panayiotou’s engagement ring and wedding band, believed to have been stolen during her murder, in the hope of tracking down her killers.

They had appealed to anyone who recognised Panayiotou’s rings to contact the Kabega Park Police Station.

At Panayiotou’s funeral on Monday, her husband, businessman Christopher paid tribute to his wife – they’ve been together for 11 years – and said he was shocked by her sudden death.

He described his wife, who he married 3½ years ago, as a great chef and a caring teacher before thanking the community for supporting him and his family during this trying time.

“She made me feel like the luckiest man alive and I never quite figured out why she gave her heart to me,” he said. “Jayde was my drive to do better, Jayde kept me going.”

In the days after her disappearance, thousands of people shared pictures of Panayiotou and messages on social media, and the #FindJayde hashtag was trending for days.

Initial reports had speculated that she was abducted by more than one man, one of whom withdrew money from her bank account shortly after she went missing at around 6.30am.

Pupils of the teacher spoke warmly of her at a memorial service at Riebeek College Girls’ High School in Uitenhage on Monday, where Panayiotou, a former student, had taught Grades 4 to 7 and coached hockey.

Parents said the community was devastated and shocked by her death.

The Panayiotou family own a take-away and several businesses in Uitenhage while Christopher is also the chairman of the body corporate in the complex in which he and his wife had lived.

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