Christopher Panayiotou in desperate attempt to appeal his sentence

Christopher Panayiotou, the convicted mastermind behind the murder of his wife, Jayde (28), is still desperately trying to appeal his sentence – despite the fact the court of appeals has denied him leave to appeal.

On 2 November 2017, his 31st birthday, Panayiotou was found guilty of the murder of Jayde in the high court in Port Elizabeth. Judge Dayalin Chetty showed Panayiotou no mercy and sentenced him to life in prison.

On 8 December 2017, Panayiotou’s legal team applied for leave to appeal the sentence.

The request was heard on 17 May 2018. Advocate Terry Price (for Panayiotou) argued that Judge Chetty had been prejudiced against his client.

However, Judge Chetty denied Panayiotou’s request for leave to appeal, saying another court won’t come to a different decision.

He said Price’s arguments were without merit and rejected Panayiotou’s request for leave to appeal, as well as those of his fellow accused, Sinethemba Nenembe (29) and Zolani Sibeko (35).

Panayiotou then approached the court of appeals in Bloemfontein but had no better luck – this court also refused to grant leave to appeal to Panayiotou, Luthando Siyoni (30), the suspected middle man, and Nenembe, who carried out the killing. 

The court decided an appeal would have no reasonable chance of success. But that wasn’t the end of it.

Panayiotou’s attorney, Alwyn Griebenow, says his family have now decided to appeal directly to the chief judge of the appeal court in terms of Article 17.

They hope in this way to get leave to appeal based on unusual circumstance as, they claim, some evidence was ignored.

Griebenow says it’s going well with Panayiotou who’s serving his sentence in the St Albans prison near Port Elizabeth, and that his family are hopeful.

Should their latest attempt prove unsuccessful they plan to approach the constitutional court.

Jayde Panayiotou’s murder

  • The body of Jayde Panayiotou, from Port Elizabeth, was found on 22 April 2015 in an open field at Kwanobuhle near Uitenhage.
  • She disappeared at around 6.30am on 21 April while waiting for a lift to Riebeek College Girls’ High School in Uitenhage where she was a Grade 7 teacher.
  • It wasn’t the first attempt to kidnap her. Sizwe Vumazonke (30), one of the accused who died in hospital before the trial began, apparently claimed in his statement that there had been “problems”.
  • They allegedly missed Jayde on several occasions while she was waiting for transport. Jayde and her best friend and colleague, Cherise Swanepoel, took turns to drive to school and back.
  • Forensic pathologist Kevin Fourie, who on 23 April 2015 performed a post mortem on Jayde, testified that her death was caused by bullet wounds to her skull and chest. She’d been shot three times.
  • More than 200 police officers took part in the search for Jayde’s body and a reward of R150 000 was offered for information.
  • Panayiotou was tried as the alleged mastermind behind the murder. His fellow accused were Nenembe and Sibeko. On 4 May 2015, Panayiotou was officially charged with the murder of Jayde.
  • His tribute to Jayde at her funeral was based on a piece by US author Charles Atkins titled My Sweet Wife’s Eulogy, dated October 2010. Panayiotou claimed he wasn’t “good with words”.