Port Elizabeth – The police officer labelled a double agent by murder accused Christopher Panayiotou has taken to the stand in the trial within a trial on the admissibility of a conversation between Panayiotou and alleged middleman Luthando Siyoni.
Panayiotou and his two co-accused are on trial on a charge of killing his schoolteacher wife Jayde on April 21,2015.
Detective Warrant Officer Leon Eksteen told the court that he had been a friend of the Panayiotou family, having known Costa and Fanoula, Panayiotou’s parents, for the past 16 years.
He said while he wouldn’t call them close friends, he had often been invited to attend events with his wife, and that Panayiotou had grown up in front of him.
He told the court how on the day Jayde had gone missing he had received a phone call from Costa while he was busy with investigations in Graaff Reinet.
He said Costa had told him that Jayde was missing and that they believed she had been abducted.
He told the court that he had finished his work in Graaff Reinet before heading back to Port Elizabeth where he had helped with the initial search for her.
Asked by State Advocate Marius Stander if he had been part of the official investigation at the time, Eksteen said no; he had been involved as a friend of the Panayiotou family as he had not been assigned to the case yet.
Eksteen then told the court how he had been approached by Captain Kanna Swanepoel on April 28, 2015, after Siyoni had implicated Panayiotou in the case. He said Swanepoel had asked him to assist, as he knew Christopher.
New bail application being considered
Eksteen explained how he had used his phone to record the conversations between Siyoni and Panayiotou at the police’s organised crime offices. He said Siyoni had put the one phone on speaker and he had used his phone to record the conversation.
Earlier in the day, defence Advocate Terry Price concluded his cross-examination of detective Constable Aldre Koen.
Stander also confirmed that he had received communication from Panayiotou’s defence counsel, saying they were considering bringing a new bail application.
Stander pointed out that he would not be available from December 7 to January 8.
Jayde went missing from outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, on April 21. The school teacher was found dead the next day.
She had been shot three times.
Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are facing charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbery and murder. They have pleaded not guilty.
Siyoni allegedly hired the hitman, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, and turned State witness after his arrest. He worked as a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park. Vumazonke died in a Port Elizabeth hospital in September.
The trial continues.