Port Elizabeth – The Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s courtroom erupted into a loud cheer when Christopher Panayiotou, charged with the murder of his school teacher wife Jayde, was refused bail on Friday morning.
The distraught family of his slain 29-year-old wife exclaimed “yes”, and raised their hands into the air to express their relief at the long-awaited decision by Magistrate Abigail Beaton.
The magistrate was still on the bench when members of the public gallery clapped and praised her, with some shouting “there is justice” and “thank you Lord”.
Jayde’s sister, Toni Inggs, and her mother Michelle Inggs burst into tears and hugged one another and had to be comforted by Jayde’s father, Derek.
“I am very pleased with the judgment. We could not have asked for better,” Toni Inggs said.
“My heart is still broken, but this is one step in the right direction. Thank you to everyone that has supported us.”
A visibly relieved Derek declined to comment. “The magistrate has said everything.”
Before announcing her decision, Beaton said she had considered the evidence in totality as well as all the extensive arguments and case laws that were presented to her.
She said the accused faced a schedule six offence, which meant the onus rested on him to prove why it was in the interest of justice to release him on bail.
“He has failed to do so,” Beaton concluded.
Beaton will formally read the full reasons for her decision into the court record on June 12.
Panayiotou’s family was not in court when he was refused bail.
Unlike other occasions, where they filled the entire front row of the public gallery, Jayde’s family occupied those seats on Friday.
Jayde, 29, was assaulted, thrown in the boot of a rental car and shot twice in the back and once in the head. Her body was found on the outskirts of KwaNobuhle township in Uitenhage a day after she disappeared.
It is alleged that Panayiotou, 28, paid his employee Luthando Siyoli R70 000 for the hit on his wife.
It is claimed Siyoli in turn secured the services of Sizwezakhe Vumazonke to carry out the job.
Panayiotou was arrested days after Siyoli, a bouncer at a nightclub owned by Panayiotou, had been arrested.
Vumazonke was arrested later.
All three men have been charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and conspiracy to commit murder.
Panayiotou and his co-accused are due to appear in court together for the first time on June 19.