Christopher Panayiotou’s dual citizenship with Cyprus, and the fact that he has no dependents, were cited among the reasons he was not granted bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court ahead of his trial for the murder of his wife Jayde.
Giving her reasons for not granting him bail on June 5, Magistrate Abigail Beeton said at first Panayiotou claimed he had nowhere to flee, but it later emerged that his father owns a house in Cyprus and that he had dual citizenship with the country.
Panayiotou was present to hear the reasons – dressed in a blue informal jacket and jeans, and not in the black suit he usually wears. The court was not as full as usual, and only his family was present.
Beeton said if investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel had not told the court that Panayiotou had dual citizenship, the court would have remained ignorant to the facts surrounding his travel documents.
‘Misleading the court’
”It’s my view that Christopher Panayiotou was misleading the court when he said that he had nowhere to go,” said Beeton.
South Africa has vast uncontrolled borders, and Panayiotou has travelled more than the average South African citizen. He also has the means to do so, she continued.
It was clear that he had a high standard of living, and, being financially over-extended, he would leave a trail of debts behind.
She referred to the late George Louka, who skipped the country and fled to Cyprus after being accused of the murder of Lolly Jackson. Louka was eventually brought back to South Africa where he made startling claims that it was actually business associate Radovan Krejcir that had killed Jackson. Because he was scared after Jackson was murdered, he told of how he bribed his way over the border to Mozambique, to travel on to Cyprus.
‘Reasonably strong’ case
The State’s case against Panayiotou was ”reasonably strong” and ”decisive”, said Beeton. She said the offence carried a sentence of life imprisonment if the accused is convicted.
He faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder‚ kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.
His co-accused are Thando Siyoli, 31, and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30. Siyoli has turned State witness. He and Vumazonke are due back in court on June 19.
A forensic report on money allegedly paid to co-accused Siyoli was also still outstanding.
His defence advocate Terry Price had submitted that Panayiotou should be released on bail because conditions at St Alban’s prison where he is being kept are appalling, and he is needed at his businesses – the OK Grocer which he has shares in, and a nightclub.
‘Business will survive without him’
Beeton maintained they would survive without him. He had not shown what was so special about his managerial skills, and why others could not fill in.
”In my view, it’s inconceivable that he would let his shares in his business go down the drain.”
Panayiotou’s bail application was denied on June 5. Beeton said at the time although it was unusual to wait for reasons to be supplied, she did it this way because of previous delays, and that bail by its nature was urgent.
At the time, she said he had failed to show exceptional circumstances to be released on a Schedule 6 offence.
In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, a Schedule 6 offence is considered so serious that the accused must show exceptional circumstances to be granted bail.
Jayde disappeared on April 21 after last being seen outside her home waiting for a lift to the school where she taught. Her body was later found in an isolated area in KwaNobuhle, outside Uitenhage, and her husband was arrested on April 29 for her murder.
It emerged later that Panayiotou was having an affair with a colleague, Chanelle Coutts. Coutts had a nervous breakdown after the revelations about herself and Panayiotou came to light. News24