Port Elizabeth – She couldn’t associate the excited groom who promised to protect his wife for the rest of his life with the man who spoke about her murder “as if he was ordering a hamburger”.
That, Debbie Godfrey told Netwerk24, was what kept going through her mind after she saw the video recording in which Christopher Panayiotou apparently discusses his wife Jayde with the suspected middleman, Luthando Siyoni.
Panayiotou and his co-accused – Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko – are facing charges of murder, kidnapping, theft and conspiracy to murder.
Godfrey, who got to know Jayde when she was married to Panayiotou’s nephew, was in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth when the video was shown.
“I’ve watched the video again and again to try and make sense of how someone who had been so loving towards wife could become as heartless as he appears to be to me in the video.
“The anger that builds up in one’s heart is unbelievable. It sounded as though he was closing a business deal, or ordering a hamburger.”
Godfrey said she had initially been “heartbroken” for Panayiotou.
“When people speculated that he’d been involved, I defended him. He was a young, upbeat man who wanted to be successful.”
‘She was the best person in the world’
For Jayde, Godfrey only has praise. “She was a beautiful person who put her heart and soul into everything she did. She was outspoken and liked children. I think she would’ve been a wonderful mother.”
Jayde also had a close bond with Godfrey’s daughter, Thalia, 10.
“When her body was found, I told Thalia that she’d been in an accident and that God had decided that it was time for Jayde to go.
“The next day she came back from school where she’d been told about it by friends. She wanted to know why I’d lied to her. Then I had to tell her that there are bad people in the world who did this to Jayde.”
Godfrey started the “Justice for Jayde” Facebook page.
“Jayde’s legacy shouldn’t die. That is why I created the Facebook page. However, a part of me wants the ugly bit to be over and done with.”
Thalia initially keeps quiet when asked about Jayde. Then she disappears. She comes back with a piece of paper with one sentence written on it: “She was the best person in the world.”