The defence team representing murder accused Christopher Panayiotou wanted to know from a National Investigative Analyst why she did not consult with with “probably one of the most crucial witnesses” Chanelle Coutts, also known as the businessman’s mistress.
Thereza Botha was under cross examination in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday, and was responding to questions made by defence advocate Terry Price, in the ongoing murder trial involving Panayiotou and his two co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe and Zolani Sibeko.
Botha’s evidence in chief painted an intricate pattern of how various cell phone numbers of role players together with geographical analysis link up in a series of events preceding the murder of Jayde Panayiotou in April 2015.
In her report Botha had previously indicated that a number believed to belong to Coutts interacted with a number associated with a potential alleged hitman Trompie on 19 occasions.
“What were you trying to show with [Christopher] not being in close range of these calls? Don’t you agree that Coutts and Trompie would be able to explain why they spoke to each other or if they did speak to each other?” asked Price.
Botha said that both Coutts and Trompie were not accused before court and the point of plotting the calls between Coutts and Trompie’s numbers was to establish that Panayiotou’s handset couldn’t have made the calls to Trompie — because Panayiotou’s handset was not in close proximity to where Coutts was at the time.
Price told Botha that during an adjournment the defence called the number alleged to belong to Trompie, but the number now belonged to a woman named Angie in Bethlehem.
Price further stated that Coutts never communicated with Trompie because every call went to an automated voicemail, however, Botha retorted that whether the call was successful or not, Trompie’s number was punched into Coutts’s phone.
Botha was also questioned on why she felt the need to highlight in her report the number of over 800 calls made between Panayiotou and his cousin Claudio Bertolani between September 1, 2014 and time of arrest on 29 April 2015.
Price put it to her that Bertolani and Panayiotou were close, they had grown up together and thus if calls were made between the two it was irrelevant.
However, Botha said that she included it in her report because there was a common denominator — in that Panayiotou communicated with Bertolani and Bertolani’s number was used to contact Jayde’s alleged shooter Sizwe Vumazonke.
“What I’m saying is relevant, Berolani’s phone was used to contact the person who allegedly rented the alleged [hit] vehicle,” said Botha.
Jayde was kidnapped on April 21, 2015, outside the couple’s complex Stelen Glen in Kabega Park, while she was waiting for a lift to work.
The State alleges that Nenembe assisted Vumazonke to kidnap and murder the school teacher at the behest of her husband. Vumazonke has since died.
According to the State, Sibeko is linked to the crime through cellphone mapping which placed him outside Jayde’s complex in the days before her murder.
The trial continues.