The alleged triggerman accused of shooting and killing Port Elizabeth teacher Jayde Panayiotou died yesterday morning after being hospitilised due to an unknown illness last month.
Questions were raised this week whether Sizwezakhe Vumazonke had been poisoned. It also emerged Vumazonke had slipped into a coma and was under police guard at Livingstone Hospital. Vumazonke’s lawyers previously said he had become violently ill while in prison.
His lawyers indicated that at times he was assisted by co-accused Sinethemba Nenembe, who shared a cell with him. Prosecutor Marius Stander had told the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth that a medical certificate had not been issued because the doctor could not indicate what exactly was wrong with the alleged hitman.
Stander said the state was awaiting a toxicology report. Vumazonke’s lawyer, Michelle Blignaut, who was at Livingstone Hospital, said her client had died and that she had informed family members.
Christopher Panayiotou is accused of masterminding the abduction and murder of his wife, Jayde, in April last year. The state alleges he paid a bouncer from his Infinity nightclub, Luthando Siyoni, to hire hitman Vumazonke to kidnap and kill Jayde. Siyoni has since turned state witness.
Cellphone plotting showed that a fifth accused, Zolani Sibeko, was with Nenembe and Vumazonke outside Jayde’s Stellen Glenn Complex in Kabega Park just five days before the school teacher was abducted.
The state alleges Jayde was forced into the boot of a hired vehicle, taken to a remote area in Kwanobuhle and murdered. A pre-trial conference is set to get under way on September 15.