Jayde and Christopher Panayiotou

Port Elizabeth - Two men charged with conspiring to kill schoolteacher Jayde Panayiotou were dealt a blow after the Port Elizabeth High Court dismissed an application brought for their acquittal on Friday. 

Attorney Peter Daubermann had earlier brought and application in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act and claimed that there was not enough direct evidence to convict Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko. 

Daubermann claimed that the case against Nenembe and Sibeko was based solely on circumstantial evidence, and without the cell phone records the prosecution really had no case at all, adding that his clients never admitted ownership to the cell phone. The cellphone data allegedly plots them at different locations in the run up to Jayde's murder. 

State Prosecutor Marius Stander opposed the application and on Friday argued that on the conspiracy charge there were a number of ways the two men could have challenged the State's case as it was quite clear what they had to answer for. 

"It's not necessary to prove direct evidence, it can also be proved by inferential reasoning," he argued. 

Referring to case law, Stander said that both Nenembe and Sibeko had "knowledge" to explain and further questioned why the two men chose to remain mum. 

"There is absolutely no explanation given by accused 2 and 3. I ask the court to sit back and look at the totality of evidence, look at the patterns of evidence placed before court in the absence of any form of explanation," said Stander. 

Stander argued that he had proved that the cell phone numbers belonged to Sibeko and Nenembe and the sim cards showed a pattern of communication between the alleged conspirators. 

"It indicates a pattern of communication that places the numbers on the crime scene on more than one location. Nenembe's number was placed where the deceased was kidnapped, in the vehicle, and where money was withdrawn from the deceased's account. With Sibeko he is placed at the [same locations] at least on the 15th and 16th of April," said Stander.

He said that he had proved that the cell phones of both men were linked to the cell phone of the alleged hitman, Sizwe Vumazonke, who has since died. 

He added that Sibeko's cell number was in fact saved as "Zolani" on Vumazonke's phone, adding that Sibeko would have had to used the same sim card because during April 2015 and up until his arrest in 2016 the same contacts were saved and the same people were called using that particular number. Stander also proceeded to paint a picture that showed Nenembe travelling in the vehicle allegedly used in Jayde's kidnapping. 

Jayde was abducted while waiting for a lift to work and subsequently murdered on the outskirts of Kwanobhule on April 21, 2015. 

Her husband, Christopher Panayiotou, is accused of paying Luthando Siyoni, a bouncer from his Infinity nightclub, to hire Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde. 

The State alleges that Nenembe assisted Vumazonke to kidnap and murder the teacher at the behest of her husband. 

According to evidence before court Sibeko's cellphone number was placed in the vicinity of Jayde's home in the days before her killing.

The case was postponed to September 26. 

African News Agency