Packham trial under way in high court

Murder accused Rob Packham.

Constantia businessman Rob Packham stands accused of murdering his wife, Gill, and reporter KAREN WATKINS looks at some of the highlights of this unfolding courtroom drama.

Monday March 11

The trial gets under way in the Western Cape High Court, and Judge Elizabeth Steyn, wearing red robes, listens to prosecutor Susan Galloway read the charges against Mr Packham.

The businessman is accused of killing Gill by striking her on the head with a blunt object at the family’s R3.8m Riesling Road home, and for defeating the ends of justice.

Mr Packham – who was initially held under house arrest but sent to Pollsmoor in December after breaching bail conditions – pleads not guilty.

Bernice Moore, a secretary at Springfield Convent School in Wynberg, is first to testify.

She tells how she called Mr Packham on his cellphone at about 9am on Thursday February 22, 2018 but got no answer and also called his work number where she was told Mr Packham “was not at work yet”.

Ms Moore says she called Mr Packham about seven times before reaching him at 10.45am, when he told her he was coming up the stairs at the school and wanted to see who he was speaking to on the other end of the line.

Ms Moore tells the court this made her feel uneasy; she did not know why, but when she saw Mr Packham his eyes were big in his head and he looked frazzled.

Mr Packham’s daughter, Nicola, 26, says she and her mom and dad fought on Wednesday February 21, 2017, the day before her mom’s disappearance. Nicola said they had spoken about her father’s mistress. Nicola also says Gill was prescribed medication for distress.

Tuesday March 12

Warrant Officer Clive Muller testifies that a bystander saw someone running away from the green BMW at Diep River train station. Warrant Officer Muller had been following up the missing person alert issued for Gill.

He later went to the burnt-out car at the station where fire services were already on the scene.

He tells the court that another vehicle arrived soon afterwards “with Rob Packham and friends”. One of them introduced Mr Packham to Warrant Officer Miller who then sent him to Diep River station for trauma counselling.

Mr Packham’s former colleague, Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg, tells how Mr Packham allegedly asked him to lie about his whereabouts on the day of his wife’s death.

Mr Janse van Rensburg had worked with Mr Packham, who was the general manager at the carbonated cold drink company, Twizza, in Bellville.

He says Mr Packham called him at 12.23pm on February 22 2017, sounding out of breath and calling him “buddy buddy”, a term he did not normally use, and told him he had not seen Gill since 7am and was driving around looking for her.

According to Mr Janse van Rensburg, Mr Packham asked him to say they had been in a meeting together at 8.30am.

On Wednesday March 13, the first witness was a staff member at Twizza.

The case continues.