19 April 2017

South Africa: All Evidence Against Panayiotou 'Fruit of the Poisonous Tree' - Defence

Murder accused Christopher Panayiotou's lawyer on Wednesday objected to the State dumping large quantities of documentation on him.

Terry Price, for Panayiotou, told the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth that he had received 21 statements relating to the case in the last two weeks.

Price complained that the State was again ambushing the defence, as a number of the statements related to information that had been before the court since the beginning of the trial.

"I have no doubt that, when we come back in June, we will be flooded with even more documentation," said Price.

The second sitting of the trial of Panayiotou and his co-accused - Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko - resumed on Wednesday morning.

The three face charges of conspiring, kidnapping, robbing and killing Panayiotou's wife Jayde in April 2015. A fourth accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, the alleged hitman, died before the trial began.

Prosecutor Marius Stander continued calling witnesses in the trial-within-a-trial to deal with the admissibility of the recording of a conversation between Panayiotou and alleged middleman turned State witness, Luthando Siyoni.

'Fruit of the poisonous tree'

Price had argued that Siyoni was tortured into making his confession and that all evidence from him should be inadmissible as "fruit of the poisonous tree".

Chief among Stander's witnesses was Sergeant Mcedi Gcukumana, a police officer attached to the hijacking task team under Colonel Willie Mayi. Mayi was instrumental in Siyoni's arrest.

During his cross-examination of Mayi in 2016, Price said he had a history lying in court and assaulting suspects.

Gcukumana testified that he was with Mayi on the day Siyoni was arrested. He told the court how Siyoni had co-operated with the police when he was picked up at Panayiotou's Infinity cocktail bar.

Stander asked Gcukumana if Siyoni had ever been forced to the floor and "tubed", or if any police officers had trampled on him. Gcukumana said nothing like that had happened.

He said Mayi had handcuffed Siyoni and that Siyoni had resisted, but he had seen no injuries on him.

During cross-examination, Price told Gcukumana that his statement said Siyoni was injured during a scuffle when he was being handcuffed. He pointed out that Gcukumana had said he was not involved in restraining Siyoni, but in his affidavit, he had said he was.

Not threatened

Stander called Colonel Audrey Till to the stand. Till is the acting commander of the organised crime division. She was present when Siyoni was brought to the organised crime offices on April 28 and 29, 2015.

She said she had interviewed Siyoni briefly and that he had not been threatened or intimidated. She saw no injuries on him.

During cross examination, Price asked Till about transcripts of recordings where a police officer had told Siyoni to "get the fucker" and to " naai daai poes ".

Till said she was not there when those remarks were made and that she did not condone such language from her officers.

Following Till's testimony, court adjourned for the day.

The case is scheduled to resume on Friday.

Source: News24

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