Port Elizabeth – Swabs taken from inside the boot of a rental car seemed to confirm the presence of blood, a forensic expert told the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Warrant Officer Phillip Bekker, called by the State, was tasked with working out the sequence of events that took place before Jayde Panayiotou’s body was found in a field near KwaNobuhle on April 22 2015.
The school teacher disappeared from outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, a day earlier, while waiting for her lift to work in Uitenhage.
Bekker went to the Mount Road police station to examine the white Toyota Etios rental car allegedly used in the abduction by her killers.
He collected DNA from the doors, the steering wheel and the boot. He also collected soil, hair and fibre samples.
A check was done for fingerprints and marks, and a chemical and visual investigation for blood was completed.
“On the interior of the boot in the lock area, I noticed stains that were of interest to me.”
After applying a chemical solution and white and using UV lights on the spot, he concluded the stains were blood.
Previous testimony confirmed
The two swabs he collected were tested with luminol. They tested positive and turned a blue colour. The chemical reacts to any blood that contains haemoglobin – a red protein in the blood of vertebrates.
Once he was done, he handed the vehicle back to the investigating officer. He also tested the samples in the laboratory at his offices.
Jayde’s husband Christopher Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Jayde. They pleaded not guilty.
Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, believed to be the hitman hired by State witness Luthando Siyoni, died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September.
Bekker’s testimony seemed to confirm what a witness from ZEMS car hire had previously told the court.
Zulfa McCarthy, also known by her Muslim surname Soknara, testified that Vumazonke rented the Toyota Etios from her on March 9 2015.
She told the court that the police had told her that blood had been found in the boot of the car.
Terry Price, for Panayiotou, had asked her at the time whether she had seen any blood or blue colour in the boot. She said she had not seen anything.
The vehicle was later returned to ZEMS and put back into circulation as a rental vehicle.