Port Elizabeth - Self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni, who allegedly sourced a hitman to murder schoolteacher Jayde Panayiotou, made his first appearance in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday.
The case was postponed for Siyoni to make payment to his lawyer Zolile Ngeza.
Siyoni faces charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder after he allegedly sourced a hitman to kill Jayde in April 2015 at the behest of her husband, Christopher Panayiotou.
Siyoni was meant to be the State’s star witness during the murder trial of Jayde’s husband Christopher Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko, but while testifying he recanted his police statements and refused to answer any questions put to him by the State. Siyoni’s Section 204 status was revoked and he has subsequently declared a hostile witness on the stand.
The State eventually charged Siyoni with the murder of Jayde and conspiracy to commit murder on the basis that he acted in common purpose and intentionally conspired with others to have Jayde killed.
The former bouncer at Panayiotou’s nightclub was arrested in May last year in Kwazakhele after evading arrest for more than six months
In June last year, Siyoni was denied bail by the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.
On Thursday, the case against Siyoni was provisionally postponed to June 20.
Judge Irma Schoeman said the postponement was to determine if Siyoni would keep to his financial arrangement with his lawyer Zolile Ngeza.
Following a mammoth trial, in November 2017 Judge Dayalin Chetty found the businessman guilty of murdering his schoolteacher wife. He is now serving a life sentence.
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 discussed 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 Siyoni’s police statements and demystified his "concocted defence".
Chetty further highlighted a "telling comment" from Panayiotou to Siyoni: "I told you to let them do it outside the house and take the bags and the rings and they didn’t take the watch or anything.”
The judge found that 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".
Jayde was kidnapped outside her home in Kabega Park while waiting for a lift to work.
After being driven to a remote area on the outskirts of Kwanobhule where the killing took place, two shots were fired through her back and the last shot went through the left side of Jayde’s head, the bullet penetrating her brain and skull.
African News Agency/ANA