A composed Rob Packham took to the stand today, Monday April 15, to testify in the murder case of his wife Gill Packham, 57, and to a charge of defeating the ends of of justice in the Western Cape High Court.
The State closed its case last month (“Timeline of Packham’s movements”, Bulletin March 28).
The Constantia businessman was the last person to see Ms Packham alive on the day she went missing from their Riesling Road home in The Vines.
He emphatically denies being the person seen driving his wife’s green BMW at 7.28am on February 22, 2018. Mr Packham testified that he left home at about 7.30am to go to Twizza in Bellville where he was general manager.
Mr Packham also denies being the person seen on CCTV footage driving the same car in Kendal Road at 2.17pm. And he denies setting fire to the vehicle in which Ms Packham’s charred remains were later found in the boot of her car at Diep River railway station.
Mr Packham’s youngest daughter Nicola, 26, was one of the first witnesses in the State’s case, which began on Monday March 11. She testified about her parents’ troubled marriage and that she had known about her father’s affair for several years before her mother found out in October 2017.
She said they had committed to working on their marriage, attended counselling once a week in Claremont and planned to renew their vows. But the day before her disappearance, her father had said in a counselling session, that he had feelings for his mistress.
Mr Packham spoke clearly and confidently as he described the events leading to his wife’s death.
He said they had attended a counselling session on the afternoon of February 21, 2018. They had then driven separately to the Vineyard Hotel where they had wine on the veranda, followed by supper before driving home where they spent the night.
Mr Packham said they had been married for almost 30 years. His daughter Nicola had repeatedly asked him to break off the affair and to tell Ms Packham about it.
He testified that they had a disagreement but not about their marriage, but about him going to Johannesburg the following day. It came out later in his testimony that Ms Packham had trust issues and would track his movements, ask him to send pictures of where he was and would call his place of work.
During cross-examination, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway asked Mr Packham if his wife’s death had resulted from a random hijacking or attack at the house to which he replied: “I guess so”. Ms Galloway then asked him to explain how his wife’s body could be locked in the boot of her car, to which he replied that he did not know.
Ms Galloway said their home alarm had been on, the two dogs were outside, and there were no signs of a robbery. Mr Packham said the kitchen door was open and that his wife could have been attacked in the garage. Ms Galloway asked if anything was missing from the house and Mr Packham said no and that his wife’s belongings, her bag and cellphone, were not recovered.
Ms Galloway said Ms Packham died from a forceful blow, or two, to her head. She showed pictures published on Facebook and in newspapers of Ms Packham who she said wass small of stature, 152cm against Mr Packham’s 178cm.
The State found evidence of blood flecks matching Ms Packham’s DNA in the garage, in Mr Packham’s white Audi Q5, a piece of paper and a fertiliser bag. Mr Packham said his wife was a keen gardener and recycler and had cut her hand while loading recycling into his vehicle. His blood was found in their en-suite bathroom. Mr Packham smiled as he said he had nicked his chin while shaving and that his wife wanted him to get an electric razor.
Ms Galloway asked Mr Packham why witness X (Mr Packham’s former mistress who may not be identified) had testified that he had told her that he loved his life, but not his wife. Mr Packham said that he had said this in early 2016.
She then asked Mr Packham why he had asked Twizza human resource manager, Terri Adams, to go for coffee with him. He testified that he wanted to get inside information about the disciplinary hearing against him.
The case was adjourned after Ms Galloway asked Mr Packham why he had asked his colleague, Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg, to make a false statement about his whereabouts on the day his wife went missing.
Mr Janse Van Rensburg had testified that Mr Packham had called him in the early afternoon of February 22, 2018 asking him to say, should anyone ask, that they had been in a meeting at 8.30am that morning. He had agreed because Mr Packham “was the general manager and was looking for his wife”.
Mr Janse Van Rensburg later reported it to human resource management and the production manager because he “felt uneasy”.