Cape Town - Rob Packham is sticking to his innocence by alleging that his wife, Gill Packham, was the victim of a random hijacking and denying that he was involved in her murder and the burning of her body in her BMW at the Diep River railway station.
On Monday, a composed Packham took the witness box dressed in a navy suit-jacket, beige trousers and striped blue shirt. According to the investigating officer’s testimony in previous hearings, he had lost a lot of weight compared to when he was a free man.
He spoke eloquently and with confidence as he answered questions from his defence counsel, advocate Craig Webster, and prosecutor, advocate Susan Galloway.
Packham recounted events that took place the day before his wife’s disappearance leading up to the discovery of her burnt BMW vehicle, with her body in the boot in Diep River, and his arrest.
He said on the morning of her disappearance on February 22 last year he had seen his wife leave their house and head for work at Springfield Convent School at about 7am.
Once he switched on his phone, about two hours later, he saw numerous missed calls from his daughter, his sister and Gill’s workplace. They were calling to find out about her whereabouts.
“I was confused and concerned. It was unlike Gill not to be where she should be. It was not like her not to let me know if there was an issue of some sort,” he said.
After vigorous searches at beaches, Gill’s favourite spots and at nearby hospitals he got worried.
“The day got worse and worse. It got more difficult for me from thinking she was just having car problems to her being missing.
“I was more and more concerned. I was emotional. I was scared for her,” he added.
Packham denied being seen in Gill’s car by neighbourhood watch patroller Paul Gray at about 2pm.
He also denied that it was him who drove her car in Kendal Road around that time.
Packham further denied being at the scene in Diep River railway station in his white Audi Q5 that evening.
He said the only time he was at the scene was when his sister and the police were there too. Packham added that the only conclusion to draw was that Gill had been attacked.
“She may have been attacked in the garage (at home), I don’t know. We never recovered any of her possessions, like her bag and cellphone,” he said.
In cross-examination, Galloway questioned Packham on his extra-marital relationship and the fight the couple had the night before Gill’s disappearance.
Packham said they argued about her not wanting him to travel to a work meeting in Joburg. However, the following morning he spent two hours allegedly shopping for a car deal to surprise Gill.
“My wife understood why I had to go, she simply didn’t want me to go. At the same time, I was already planning to spend time looking at different cars, what deals were available and prices.”
Packham said his wife was insecure and followed him around. She even forced him to take photos with his phone to prove his whereabouts.
He said when he disclosed his affair in October last year, Gill had consulted numerous lawyers and they kept a copy of a drafted divorce agreement at home.
“Divorce was an ongoing discussion for us. It was always an option if the marriage counselling didn’t work.”
Galloway put Packham in the hot seat when she told him of CCTV footage taken four houses away from their home.
“Just four minutes after you said you left home at 7.34am your wife’s car was seen driving slowly by and it was driven by what appears to be a white male,” she said. Packham said he saw the footage but didn’t see the car along the way.