Reporters on Wednesday noticed a family friend carrying a blue memento with the words “Happy Birthday” and a cake in a box.
— Raahil Sain (@raahil_sain) November 2, 2016
When reporters started to take pictures, she accused them of having “small minds”. The cake was placed in a fridge at a coffee shop near the court building.
Shortly after court proceedings adjourned, Panayiotou’s mother Fanoula, his aunt, and a family friend identified as Anthony were seen carrying a cake box into the court building, this time the box was concealed with fabric.
Anthony held the covered box and walked straight through the building without being searched by security officials. On a daily basis, since the start of the trial Panayiotou’s mother Fanoula, father Costa and his uncle have been seen carting items into the court building. These items included crockery and food placed on a crate.
Security officials provided the media with several different versions as to why Anthony was not searched. At first they said they had received an instruction that food was allowed inside the building, when asked by whom they did not reveal who granted permission. In another version security officials claimed they were not aware the Panayiotous were members of the public and said lawyers were allowed to bring in food.
Members of the public are not allowed to bring food into the Port Elizabeth High Court. African News Agency (ANA) approached Court Manager Ilona Buys inquiring about rules regarding members of the public bringing food into the court building.
Buys told reporters that she was not aware of a Panayiotou family friend who had not been searched upon entering the building, she was also not aware of cake being taken into the building. Buys said that she would follow the matter up.
Panayiotou’s lawyer Alwyn Griebenow was later seen bringing several plates of pre-ordered food into the court building.
Commenting on the incident, Griebenow said that all items, including food, were checked by police officials before lawyers consulted with Panayiotou at the court’s holding cells.
“Police have the key to a room and we sit behind locked and closed doors and consult. Everything is searched before we go into the room. We have lunch and consult, and for the past three and a half weeks food has been arranged but everything is searched by police before we enter the room.”
Griebenow invited ANA to observe the procedure.
The trial continues on Thursday.