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Panayiotou’s defence ‘annoyed’ at postponement

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The case against Christopher Panayiotou and co-accused Sizwezhake Vumazonke has once again been postponed, to the obvious annoyance of Panayiotou’s defence team.

Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating the murder of his 29-year-old wife Jayde in April. He is accused of paying his employee Luthando Siyoli, 31, to act as a middle man and source a gunman, identified as Vumazonke, 30, to carry out the hit.

Siyoli has since turned state witness and the charges against him have been withdrawn.

Panayiotou looked healthy and less formal in court than on previous occasions, wearing a blue windbreaker and jeans.

The front bench of the courtroom was once again packed with representatives from Panayiotou’s family, as well as Vumazonke’s sister, while Jayde’s sister, Tony, and mom, Michelle, sat in the second row with members from the #justiceforjayde campaign.

Attorney convicted of stealing

Addressing Magistrate Jan Steenkamp at the beginning of proceedings, state advocate Marius Stander pointed out that Vumazonke did not have any legal representation.

This follows after his attorney, Anne Swanepoel, was prevented from practicing as an attorney in August after being convicted of stealing from a client and his counsel in 2011. She was sentenced to three years correctional supervision, but has been granted leave to appeal.

Addressing the court, Vumazonke confirmed that he did not have legal representation at the moment, but did not ask for legal aid as he first wanted to discuss the matter with his family after proceedings.

Stander then requested the court to remand the matter to December 2, where the state would then seek a provisional High Court date.

Stander said he had consulted with Panayiotou’s defence council, advocate Terry Price and Alwyn Griebenow, on the matter and had been led to believe that there was a possibility that the defence would be requisitioning an earlier date.

Defence ‘unhappy’

Price then addressed the court, and expressed his disappointment at yet another delay.

“At our last appearance in August the matter was postponed to today with the intent to transfer the matter to the High Court on January 26. What was not certain was the trial date, which would have been the 18th or 19th of April,” he said.

“We are extremely unhappy about this. Our client has been in custody now for five months. We have written three letters to the prosecutor that has [sic] gone unanswered; we have written a letter to the person in charge of the rolls and it has gone unanswered,” he said.

Price said despite this they could not stand in the way of Stander’s application, but made it clear they reserved their rights in the matter to approach the High Court to get an order to have the case docket handed over to them.

Stander pointed out that the case could not be set down to be heard in the High Court on January 26 as originally discussed, because an instruction had been given to have all matters where awaiting trial prisoners who had been waiting for two years or more, to be prioritised.

Magistrate Steenkamp agreed and the case was remanded to December 2, for a High Court date to be determined. News24


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