A local IT technician and close friend of Christopher Panayiotou is believed to be the person responsible for wiping both Panayiotou’s and his mistress Chanelle Coutts’ phone shortly after the murder of his wife, but he denies any wrongdoing.
According to a report in the Weekend Post this morning, it was revealed that local Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) IT technician, Donovan Vosloo, aged 30, had upgraded both phones, effectively wiping both handsets of any data, just days after Jayde Panayiotou’s body had been discovered.
The police’s cyber crime unit was subsequently unable to retrieve any cellphone data and experts from abroad were eventually jetted in to assist. It is unclear at this stage if they were able to retrieve anything useful to the prosecution’s case.
During Panayiotou’s failed bail application in May he admitted that both phones had been wiped, saying in a statement that this was done to conceal his affair with Coutts.
The fact that the phones had been tampered with played a role in him being denied bail. Magistrate Abigail Beeton cited this as one of her reasons, saying he had an inclination to conceal or destroy evidence.
Vosloo, who also attended Panayiotou’s bail appeal in Grahamstown, has since been added to the state’s expanded witness list.
Speaking to the Weekend Post through his lawyer Paul Bester yesterday, Vosloo said he had simply done a friend a favour.
Panayiotou allegedly contacted Vosloo weeks prior to Jayde’s murder, claiming he and Coutts were experiencing e-mail and software problems with their phones.
It was decided to do a software upgrade on both handsets. The process was carried out on April 27, just two days prior to Panayiotou’s arrest and six days after Jayde’s murder.
“I am advised that a factory reset was done on the phone and updated software, known as firmware reload, was downloaded from the Samsung website,” Bester told the Weekend Post.
“My client did not try to delete information that may be pertinent to the possible conviction of Mr Panayiotou.”
Bester said his client had given a statement to the state and it was likely he would be called as a witness.
Panayiotou’s lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, declined to comment.
Panayiotou is accused of orchestrating 29-year-old Jayde’s murder in April. He is accused of paying his employee Luthando Siyoli, aged 31, to act as a middle man and source a gunman, identified as Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, 30, to carry out the hit.
Siyoli has since turned state witness and the charges against him have been withdrawn.
Panayiotou and Vumazonke are due back in court on September 28.