Port Elizabeth – Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou’s employees from the OK Grocer in Algoa Park on Tuesday came to the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court for the first time to support their boss.
Just more than a year since the murder of Jayde Panayiotou, the case against her husband Christopher and his two co-accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke and Sinethemba Nenembe has yet to be transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court.
The State alleges that Nenembe assisted alleged hitman Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde at the behest of Panayiotou.
The case made headlines after Panayiotou was arrested just days after his wife’s body was found dumped outside Kwanobuhle township in Uitenhage in April last year.
The schoolteacher was allegedly abducted outside her home while waiting for an early morning lift to work. The State alleges her husband had her killed because she was a “financial burden”.
She was reportedly hit on the head and placed in the boot of her abductor’s car. She was then apparently shot at close range – twice in the back and once in the head.
On Tuesday at the court a group of five women wearing navy blue T-shirts with the words “Christopher Panayiotou” in front and “innocent” at the back said that they wanted their boss back at work.
It previously emerged that Panayiotou owned a 10 percent share at the OK Grocer in Algoa Park along with his dad Costa and an uncle who conducts business in Johannesburg.
The store’s turnover was between R4-million and R6-million per month and Panayiotou drew a salary of R30 000 per month from the store.
According to Panayiotou by way of affidavit, OK Grocer employed 60 employees, whose livelihoods and that of their families depended on their salaries.
During a previous bail application it emerged that Panayiotou was running the business by means of notes he wrote to his family from prison.
“Is it a sin to be here, is it a sin to want that? We want our boss back,” the employees said.
None of the women were willing to provide their names to reporters.
Justice for Jayde supporters slammed the group and said that the women were disrespectful.
Janine Stacey said that the T-shirts were disrespectful to the Inggs family and that she had seen Jayde’s mom in tears while at court.
“How can you have innocent at the back when it’s innocent until proven guilty. So we can walk around with our shirts saying Christopher Panayiotou is guilty?” asked Stacey.
The DA Women’s Network also staged a silent picket protest outside court to raise awareness around the impact of gender violence on women and children.
Meanwhile, the case against the three men was once again postponed on Tuesday.
State prosecutor Marius Stander said it was unlikely that the matter would be transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court for a pre-trial conference.
Legal aid, currently representing Sinethembe Nenembe, requested a remand based on uncertainty around Nenembe wanting private or State representation.
In addition legal aid still needed to obtain copies of the docket.
Both the defence and the State did not object to the remand.
Magistrate Esti Petzer said that under the circumstances the court would grant an “absolute final remand”.
Petzer warned that legal representation for Nenembe was to be finalised by the next court date.
The case against all three accused was postponed until May 16.
In January, the court heard that Panayiotou was likely to stand trial in July.
Panayiotou was initially denied bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and then again in the Grahamstown High Court when he appealed that decision.
It previously emerged that Panayiotou’s lawyers would bring forward a bail application based on new facts. No further details around this has since emerged.
African News Agency