Port Elizabeth – The Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday heard that Mawonga Ndedwa, an ex-employee of Christopher Panayiotou, was put through a disciplinary hearing and fired after being accused of stealing at least 11 bottles of whiskey.
Ndedwa waited nearly a year to hand police his cellphone, which his boss, Panayiotou, allegedly used to arrange the hit on his wife Jayde.
Ndedwa said he read in a newspaper article about Jayde’s death that police were trying to track the owner of an as-yet unidentified cellphone number, which he realised was his.
He was being cross-examined by Terry Price, for Panayiotou.
Ndedwa had apparently laughed while signing his disciplinary and sacking papers, and demanded R150 000 to keep quiet about the phone, Price put to him.
Ndedwa earlier said to questions from prosecutor Marius Stander that he was shocked after he found R30 000 in a bag in a storeroom at the OK Grocer. Panayiotou told him it was meant for Siyoni, he testified. The next time he went to the storeroom, the bag was gone.
Price told Ndedwa that if he could get disciplined for stealing a bottle of whiskey at work, a bag of money would have stood no chance against him.
He told Stander that Panayiotou borrowed his cellphone to make calls ahead of Jayde’s kidnapping and murder.
Ndedwa said Siyoni phoned him during the period Panayiotou was borrowing his phone. Siyoni was looking for Panayiotou, which is how he found out who Panayiotou was calling on his phone.
Ndedwa said the Wednesday after Jayde’s murder, Panayiotou gave him R1000 to get rid of the phone, and took Ndedwa’s SIM card out and destroyed it in front of him.
Price told Ndedwa the SIM card was used the following day.
He said he waited until February 2016 before contacting the investigating officer, Lieutenant Kanna Swanepoel through a work colleague, who arranged to collect the phone from him.
Price asked him why he had waited so long to hand over the phone. Ndedwa said he was still working for the Panayiotou’s OK Grocer store at the time and did not want to be disloyal to the family.
Ndedwa worked as a merchandiser for the Panayiotou family’s OK Grocer and Infinity nightclub.
Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe, and Zolani Sibeko are on trial on charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing, and killing Jayde on Tuesday, April 21, 2015r. 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. Siyoni worked as a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity Cocktail Bar in Algoa Park. He has become a State witness.
Panayiotou is facing an additional charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
Price would continue his cross-examination on Friday.