The translation of a document setting out the State‘s case against Luthando Siyoni, the self-confessed middleman who helped to plan the murder of Jayde Panayiotou on behalf of her husband Christopher, has caused delays in his bail application.
Siyoni, who evaded arrest for six months, and whose bail application has repeatedly been postponed, is facing two charges for his role in the April 2015 murder.
He has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and murder – both schedule 6 offences, which require an accused to prove the existence of exceptional circumstances in order to qualify for bail.
During the morning‘s proceedings, State advocate Marius Stander read a lengthy affidavit from investigating officer Kanna Swanepoel into the record, which dealt extensively with the evidence that was led in Christopher Panayiotou‘s trial in which Siyoni was a State witness.
Siyoni was initially arrested as the first accused in the murder, but became a Section 204 witness in exchange for immunity for his role as middleman.
However, during the trial he changed his version of events, refused to answer questions put to him by Stander and was declared a hostile witness.
In his judgment in the trial, Judge Dayalin Chetty found Siyoni‘s testimony to be “a cocktail of lies, perjury and contrivances”, designed to advance Panayiotou‘s defence, and revoked his immunity status, resulting in his arrest.
Stander said the evidence overwhelmingly showed the involvement of Siyoni in the kidnapping and murder of Jayde. Siyoni‘s attorney, Zolile Ngqeza repeatedly objected to the evidence from the previous trial being placed on record but was overruled.
When Stander finished reading Swanepoel‘s affidavit, the court stood down to allow the document to be translated into isiXhosa for Siyoni. However, when proceedings resumed at 14:00, only five of the 36 pages had been translated.
The matter again adjourned, to allow the interpreter to continue translating, but by 15:30 they had only managed to get to page 16. Stander then asked that the matter stand down until Thursday for the translation to proceed.
Ngqeza said he had a bail application for another client, who had been behind bars even longer than Siyoni, but would have another attorney from his firm stand in for him during the translation process.
Stander and Ngqeza said they had agreed on the date of June 4 for the bail application, but Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi said she had another matter down for trial on that date and would need to see if it could be moved.
She said the date would be finalised during Thursday‘s proceedings.