Surprise Witness Stands In Contrast To Prosecutor In The Panayiotou Murder Trial

A Directorate of Public Prosecutions heavyweight from Grahamstown testified that the police did not call him seeking advice on the undercover sting operation which saw Christopher Panayiotou and a bouncer discuss details of the apparent murder of Panayiotou’s school teacher wife Jayde.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Advocate Selvan Gounden was called as the defence’s first witness in the Port Elizabeth High Court heard on Wednesday – a move which came as a surprise to the prosecution.

Gounden’s testimony stands in contrast to what investigating officer Captain Kanna Swanepoel said while giving evidence at a trial-within-a-trial earlier.

At the time Swanepoel said that he had called Gounden seeking advice on the sting operation.

Gounden, who heads up the organised crime component at the DPP, said that during April 2015, he was not involved with authorisations for sting operations.

This centres around a secret video recording where Panayiotou chats to self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni about what seems to be the murder of Jayde Panayiotou. In the video Panayiotou seemingly implicated himself in his wife’s 2015 murder.

Panayiotou had met up with self-confessed middleman at the Algoa Park Steers on April 29, 2015, just days after Jayde was shot dead.

The businessman could be heard becoming paranoid that police were watching his every move and in the video tells Siyoni to destroy his SIM card, cellphone, and further instructed the bouncer not to call him because police were tracing his phone.

Gounden said on Wednesday that Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Advocate Malherbe Marais was responsible for giving permission for sting operations during 2015.

Defence advocate Terry Price asked Gounden: “The first allegation is that you were called and asked for permission needed for a recorded conversation between Christopher and Luthando Siyoni.”

Price continued: “You gave consent and guidelines for the process.”

However, Gounden said that he was not aware of this and had not been contacted.

“In 2015 I didn’t do authorisations for [stings], the person who would give permission for that was Malherbe,” said Gounden.

Gounden also told the court that he had consulted with Prosecutor Marius Stander and conceded that he had told Stander he did not have the authority to give permission for it.

Stander was caught by surprise and said that he was not informed by the defence that Gounden would testify on Wednesday.

Stander asked for time to organise the necessary documentation which would enable him to cross examine Gounden.

Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko are on trial for conspiracy to kidnap, rob and murder Jayde on April 21, 2015.

The case was postponed till today.

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