‘Cocktail of lies’ twist in Jayde case
Middleman Siyoni and girlfriend Breakfast may yet face charges
THE Jayde Panayioutou contract killing and subsequent conviction of her husband and two others could take another dramatic twist, with the possibility of a further two people standing trial for complicity in her murder.
The man intimately involved in securing an assassin for wife killer Christopher Panayiotou was found to be a liar and a perjurer who most likely accepted a bribe to change his testimony in court.
Judge Dayalin Chetty’s tongue-lashing when delivering judgment in the case this week sealed middleman Luthando Siyoni’s fate, with it quickly becoming clear that he would more than likely have his Section 204 status revoked and face standing trial for murder.
The judge laid into the middleman’s conduct on the stand as he convicted Panayiotou and his accomplices of murder on Thursday.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Port Elizabeth Advocate Indra Goberdan said yesterday they were still in the process of studying Chetty’s judgment, but that if charged, Siyoni’s girlfriend, Babalwa Breakfast, who was also found to have lied on the stand, would be tried as his co-accused.
Siyoni, 37, a bouncer at Panayiotou’s Infinity nightclub was the first to be arrested in connection with the April 2015 murder of Uitenhage teacher Jayde, 29, after police received a tip-off from an informer.
He quickly confessed to his involvement and the details of the kidnapping and murder were confirmed in statements obtained from both Siyoni and Breakfast.
But when trial kicked off last year, he took everyone including state advocate Marius Stander by surprise by recanting on his version to police.
Siyoni instead denied his involvement in arranging the hitmen and claimed he had been tortured and forced to implicate his former boss.
In a mammoth judgment in the Port Elizabeth High Court this week, Chetty con- victed Panayiotou, 31, and hitman Sinethemba Nemembe of murder, while co-conspirator Zolani Sibeko was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
In doing so, Chetty was scathing of Siyoni’s conduct, as well as that of his attorney, Zolile Ngqeza, who he said had erroneously advised him not to answer any incriminating questions from the state.
Ngqeza said yesterday that he had not been informed judgment would take place on Thursday and that was why he had not been in court.
Goberdan, meanwhile, explained that Siyoni and his legal representative would have to attend proceedings on November 17, when Panayiotou and his co-accused are due to be sentenced. Thereafter, Stander will argue whether or not he felt Siyoni was honest and fulfilled his job as a Section 204 witness by incriminating himself on the stand.
Given the ambush that was launched on Stander, all indications are, however, that he will ask for Siyoni to be tried.
Siyoni’s attorney will then
have an opportunity to respond before Chetty makes a finding.
Asked what his stance would be, Ngqeza said: “I must still read Judge Chetty’s judgment and I will consider my position from there.”
If charged, Siyoni will stand trial afresh in the high court with a new judge assigned to his case. He would face charges including conspiracy to commit murder, murder and defeating the ends of justice.
The charges carry a prescribed minimum sentence of life in prison.
Goberdan said Breakfast would be charged as a conspirator after the fact.
While Siyoni’s confession was not admissible against Panayiotou, Nemembe and Sibeko, it can now be used against him at trial. Chetty said Stander had been duped into believing Siyoni would testify in conformity with his statements.
“Subsequent events soon established the extent of the collusion not only between himself, Breakfast and those family members called to corroborate his version, but it moreover compels the conclusion that Ngqeza was party to the deception practised on the prosecution.”
He said Siyoni and Breakfast had been “suborned” to recant their statements.
Turning to Siyoni’s submissions that he was tortured by police, Chetty said: “It is unnecessary to delineate the nature and extent of the alleged battering for the simple reason that his evidence is, upon a holistic appraisal, a cocktail of lies, perjury and contrivances designed to advance Panayiotou’s defence.”