The bail application for Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped to plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou on behalf of her husband Christopher, resumed in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Siyoni, who evaded arrest for six months, and whose bail application has been repeatedly postponed, is facing two charges for his role in the murder in April 2015.
He is facing conspiracy to commit murder and murder charges, which are both schedule 6 offences. These require the accused to prove exceptional circumstances in order to qualify for bail.
The matter was further delayed after his last appearance on May 23, due to the need to translate a lengthy affidavit opposing his application, made by investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel.
In his defence, Siyoni said he would be pleading not guilty, adding that he had no previous convictions or pending cases.
Assault allegations resurface
On Friday, Siyoni’s defence lawyer, Zolile Ngqeza, submitted a responding affidavit from Siyoni.
In it Siyoni claimed that he had been assaulted at the time of his arrest and had been forced to make a verbal confession.
He said he had told the police the money paid by Panayiotou for the hit on his wife was at his home, knowing it wasn’t there, but so that his family could see that he had been assaulted.
Siyoni said that he had, on numerous occasions, told the police and his attorney that he had been assaulted. He said he had a swollen eye, split lip and torn jeans as a result.
Forced to testify
In his initial bail application, Siyoni had said that, during the previous trial, he had cooperated with the State.
However, on Friday Siyoni told the court how he had repeatedly told prosecutor Marius Stander that he would not lie in court, and how he had at one point requested to forego his section 204 status and stand trial as an accused.
At a cleansing ceremony
Siyoni said he was not a flight risk, and had not been evading arrest.
He said after his testimony in the Panayiotou trial, he had not been warned by Judge Dayalin Chetty and at the end of the trial he was already leaving Port Elizabeth.
Siyoni said that, as a Xhosa man practicing traditional customs, he had been called by his elders. He said they had decided on a cleansing ceremony, as he had been detained for nine months.
Siyoni said he had never fled arrest, but had travelled to Ngqamakwe, the home of his father’s clan, for the cleansing ritual. He said he had been there from December and returned on his own at the end of February.
He said he was not aware the police were looking for him. When he returned his mother had told him two white man had been at the house asking for him, but said they wore plain clothes, had unmarked vehicles and left no contact details.
Overwhelming evidence against Siyoni
Stander had previously said the state had a strong case as there was overwhelming evidence against Siyoni.
Stander pointed out that Siyoni was initially arrested as the first accused in the murder, but became a Section 204 witness before the trial in exchange for indemnity for his role as middleman.
However, during the trial Siyoni changed his version of events, refused to answer questions put to him by Stander and was declared a hostile witness.
In his judgment in the Panayiotou trial, Chetty found Siyoni’s testimony to be “a cocktail of lies, perjury and contrivances” designed to advance Panayiotou’s defence, and revoked his immunity status, resulting in his arrest.
Stander said the evidence overwhelmingly showed the involvement of Siyoni in the kidnapping and murder of Jayde.
Stander also pointed out that Siyoni had evaded arrest for six months and that numerous attempts had been made to find him, including regular visits to his mother’s home as well as a gym where he had helped out.
Following the conclusion of Siyoni’s application, Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi adjourned for lunch.
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