Constantia man weeps at first court appearance

Constantia couple, Rob and Gill Packham.

Rob Packham made his first appearance in Wynberg Magistrate’s Court today, Monday March 5, on charges of defeating the ends of justice and the premeditated murder of his wife Gill Packham following her disappearance on Thursday February 22.

With closely cropped grey hair, dressed in a blue and white check shirt and blue chinos, and carrying a red jersey, Mr Packham climbed the steps from the holding cells in court four, turned to family members sitting in the second row, and winked.

Mr Packham wept when defence attorney Ben Mathewson asked that Mr Packham be released for his wife’s burial tomorrow (Tuesday March 6).

But State prosecutor Brynmor Benjamin argued against Mr Packham being released on bail, saying he feared evidence may be lost if he were released.

Mr Mathewson asked that Mr Packham be detained at Diep River police, where he had been held since he was arrested at his home in The Vines, Constantia on Thursday March 1. Magistrate Goolam Bawa denied the request and Mr Packham will be held at Pollsmoor Prison until his next appearance on Friday March 9, to determine the schedule of the offences of which he stands accused.

Mr Packham, 57, is general manager of Twizza Cape Town, a cooldrink company established in 2003. He went to school at Michealhouse and Ridge School before studying to become a chartered accountant.

The remains of Ms Packham, also 57, were burnt beyond recognition and found in the boot of a burnt out bottle green BMW close to Diep River railway station on the evening that she was reported missing by one of her daughters.

She was identified by means of forensic DNA comparison to the couple’s daughters, Nicola and Kerry Anne, who both attended their father’s first court appearance with other family members and friends.

Mr Packham was the last person to have seen his wife alive before she left home for Springfield Convent School where she worked as an administrator at the junior school.

Closed circuit television footage and cellphone messages between Mr Packham and his wife aided police in the investigation. Mr Benjamin said it was a known fact that the couple had had marital problems and that Mr Packham had sent a message stating that he was thinking of calling it a day between himself and his wife.

Her cellphone has not been found nor has the weapon which caused blunt force trauma to the head, the cause of her death. After the arrest, the forensic unit found blood at their home in the garage, on the inside of Mr Packham’s driver’s side door and in the couple’s ensuite bathroom.

Mr Mathewson said there was no history of criminal abuse.