Port Elizabeth – Christopher Panayiotou killed his wife Jayde to stop getting further into debt as he was trying to keep his mistress happy, a Port Elizabeth magistrate’s court heard on Thursday.
“The motive for killing the deceased is actually very simple,” investigating officer Lieutenant Rhynhardt Swanepoel said in affidavit, read to the court by prosecutor Marius Stander.
“The applicant was in financial difficulty. He hardly managed to keep head above water. He was now in the process of acquiring a further R2.2m debt, which meant it would be impossible for him to keep his mistress and wife happy. He was being forced into creating more debt so he decided to have the deceased killed, not to gain financially, but to curtail his ever-increasing debt.”
Panayiotou, 28, refuted this in his responding affidavit, submitting a list of his assets and liabilities which showed his net worth exceeded R3m.
He, however, admitted to having an affair with Chanelle Coutts for the past three years, but said it had no bearing on the case, his lawyer Terry Price read from his affidavit, submitted as part of his bail application.
Coutts is the personnel manager of the OK Grocer in Algoa Park. Panayiotou owns the grocery store.
Panayiotou faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder‚ kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice. Thando Siyoli‚ 31‚ and Sizwezakhe Vumazonke‚ 30‚ are his co-accused.
Jayde Panayiotou, 29, was abducted outside her home in Kabega Park, Port Elizabeth, while waiting for her lift to Riebeeck Park High School on Tuesday, April 21. She was found shot dead outside Kwanobuhle township, Uitenhage, the following day.
Panayiotou often bought Coutts gifts and they would meet secretly at hotels, restaurants and even in Panayiotou’s townhouse complex when his wife went to visit her family on their farm, according to Swanepoel’s affidavit.
Swanepoel said Panayiotou’s father discovered the affair around October last year and, having loved Jayde as his own daughter, told Panayiotou that if the relationship continued he would be disinherited. The father however decided not to tell Jayde about it.
Panayiotou approached Siyoli in September last year to try and find a hitman. Siyoli approached at least three men.
In February this year, Siyoli spoke to Vumazonke and he agreed to do the job. It was agreed that Panayiotou would pay R70 000, of which Vumazonke would get R40 000 and Siyoli R30 000.
On the morning of April 21, Vumazonke went to the Stellen Glen complex where the Panayiotous lived. He circled the complex in his rented car before stopping next to Jayde.
According to Swanepoel’s affidavit, Jayde was hit over the head and put into the car’s boot. Vumazonke drove towards KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, where he stopped near Rooihoogte Road. He pulled Jayde from the boot and carried her into the veld. He shot her twice in the back and in the head at close range.
Vumazonke then phoned Siyoli from the scene to tell him he had “completed the job” and wanted payment, according to Swanepoel’s affidavit.
Stander, in opposing bail, raised concerns that Panayiotou was a flight risk as he had applied for a Cypriot passport, which was issued to him in March.
Panayiotou said he had applied for the passport but was not aware that it had been issued and he had not collected it. He pointed out that he was last in Cyprus in 2009.
Stander asked that the matter be postponed to allow him to prepare his closing arguments.
The case was postponed to Tuesday.