The National Prosecuting Authority in the Eastern Cape has made an application to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, this in order to retrieve the data from murder accused Christopher Panayiotou’s cellphone.
Panayiotou and his two co-accused, Sizwezakhe Vumazonke and Sinethemba Nenembe, appeared in the Port Elizabeth’s court on Monday.
The 28-year old businessman is accused of masterminding the abduction and murder of his school teacher wife Jayde, in April last year.
During Panayiotou’s previous bail application it emerged that the cellphone data would be almost impossible to retrieve.
Panayiotou had previously indicated in court documents that he had had the data wiped to remove traces of his extramarital affair with Chanelle Coutts.
It emerged on Monday that the State has sought legal assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security in order to retrieve Whatsapp messages and Facebook content.
During court proceedings on Monday, State Prosecutor Marius Stander said that the investigation was still not complete.
“The request for legal assistance has been received by the Department of Homeland, I’m just not sure if the diplomatic copy has been received by the department of foreign affairs,” said Stander.
In a previous bail hearing, the prosecution indicated that the data was expertly wiped off the cellphones of Panayiotou and his mistress to delete potential evidence.
However, IT technician Donovan Vosloo later told the court that he had wiped both phones because Panayiotou had told him the devices were technically faulty.
Meanwhile, Michelle Blignaut, the attorney representing alleged hitman Vumazonke, indicated that she was likely to bring forth another bail application when his parole concluded after January 14. Vumazonke is currently serving a sentence of correctional supervision which relates to a case of armed robbery.
Magistrate Lise Keech postponed the matter until March 11 for further investigation.
All three accused will remain in custody until their next court appearance
Panayiotou was initially denied bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s court and then again in the Grahamstown High Court when he appealed that decision.
The state alleges Panayiotou had his wife killed because she was a financial burden.
The school teacher was allegedly abducted outside her Kabega Park townhouse complex while waiting for an early morning lift to work.
She was reportedly hit on the head and placed in the boot of her abductor’s car. Police say she was shot at close range – twice in the back and once in the head.
– African News Agency (ANA)