Constantia businessperson Rob Packham was composed and articulate as he tried to explain his movements on the day of his wife’s disappearance to the Western Cape High Court on Monday.
When defence advocate Craig Webster asked Packham if he was in any way involved in causing the death of his wife, his response was a vehement “I was not, absolutely not.”
Packham is accused of murder and defeating the ends of justice for allegedly killing his wife, Gill Packham, in February last year. He has pleaded not guilty.
On the day she went missing, February 22, she did not arrive for work at the usual time of 7:30am. Her body was later found in the boot of a burnt-out BMW near the Diep River train station.
The State alleges that her husband used a blunt object to hit her on the head and, with the alleged intention of obstructing the course of justice, set her BMW on fire while her body was in it.
The couple had been having marital problems and had been attending counselling sessions, after Packham had disclosed his infidelities. The day before her disappearance, they had attended a session, returned home and remained there for the rest of the night, Packham told the court.
During cross examination, senior state prosecutor Susan Galloway said witness X (Packham’s former mistress who may not be identified) had testified that Packham had told her that he loved his life, but not his wife.
Packham conceded this and testified that he had said this in early 2016.
He later also conceded that it was possible that he could have told his mistress the night before Gill’s disappearance that he needed to make a decision about his future.
Galloway wanted to know why he continued to make contact with his lover after their affair ended on March 25, 2018. He said he had received conflicting information from friends and didn’t know whether she did not want contact or wanted to protect herself from a media frenzy.
Packham was arrested on March 1.
He claimed his wife left their Constantia home at about 7am while he left at around 7.30am.
“So you were the last person who saw her alive on February 22,” asked Galloway.
“Yes,” replied Packham.
Gill’s BMW was seen on CCTV footage about three houses down from their residence, driving slowly past 18 Riesling Road. Galloway said it did not appear to be “getting away” and was being driven by a white male.
But Packham said he did not know who was driving his wife’s car. He told the court he drove the other way, and visited car dealerships as he planned to buy his wife a new car.
Galloway pointed out that when the BMW was captured on CCTV it was 7.34am and by then the front number plate had been removed.
She said the first time Packham was seen by anyone other than his wife was at 9.47am at Twizza, the cooldrink plant where he worked. His phoned was switched on at 9.53am.
Galloway also cross-examined Packham about why he phoned a colleague and asked him to lie for him and to tell anyone who called that he had been in a meeting since 8.30am.
Packham said the colleague must have been confused as he had asked him to say this to Gill if she phoned or arrived at the plant. He said she would sometimes check up on him because of his infidelities, which he had revealed to her in October, 2017.
The defence objected to the state questioning Packham on certain aspects in the record without him having the transcripts before him.
The court adjourned until Tuesday so that Packham could be provided with the relevant parts of the record.
– African News Agency (ANA)