Rob Packham, the Constantia businessman accused of murdering his wife, appeared briefly in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Nearby, at Diep River train station, two ribbons flutter in the breeze at the site where the charred remains of a body were found by a rail security guard and Diep River police in the boot of a burnt-out BMW on Thursday February 22 (“Burnt body found after woman disappears,” Bulletin February 26).
Through forensic DNA comparison to blood from the couple’s daughter, the body was identified as that of Gill Packham, 57.
Earlier that day, a search had been under way for Ms Packham after someone opened a missing person’s report at Diep River police station.
Ms Packham had not been seen since she left home in Riesling Road, The Vines, Constantia, at 7am, in her dark green BMW 3 series.
She was on her way to work at Springfield Convent High School in Wynberg where she was a junior secretary. She never arrived.
Mr Packham was arrested in March and faces charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice. He had to surrender his Audi Q5 to the police for investigation.
He appeared in Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday March 5, where the second bench of the courtroom was filled with family, friends and the couple’s daughters, Nicola and Kerry Anne, both past pupils at Springfield Convent School.
During that appearance, State prosecutor Brynmor Benjamin read the evidence that had led to Mr Packham’s arrest. It included cellphone messages between Mr Packham and his wife as well as messages to a co-worker asking him to be an alibi.
These messages – picked up by masts in Diep River and Constantia – had aided police in the investigation.
There is also closed-circuit television footage showing Mr Packham driving a bottle-green BMW with no registration plates.
After Mr Packham’s arrest, a police forensic unit searched the couple’s home and found blood in the garage, on the inside of the driver’s side door of Mr Packham’s car and in the couple’s en suite bathroom. Mr Benjamin said it was a known
fact that the couple had had marital problems and that Mr Packham had sent his wife a message stating that he was thinking of calling it a day with their marriage.
Mr Packham denies having murdered his wife and was released on R50 000 bail and was then placed under house arrest at his home.
On Tuesday July 10, with shouts from prisoners rising from cells below courtroom 4, Mr Packham shielded his face as the media photographed him standing in the dock. Wearing glasses, a blue shirt and stretch/sport top and navy pants,
Mr Packham seemed unchanged from his first appearance in court.
None of the family and friends who had been at the earlier hearing could be seen in the courtroom.
Mr Packham’s lawyer, Ben Mathewson, asked that the case be postponed for further investigation and until prosecutor Susan Galloway was available.
State prosecutor Nicky Konisi told the court the State was preparing an indictment for the Western Cape High Court.
Magistrate Bawa postponed the case to Thursday August 30 and extended Mr Packham’s bail.