CAPE TOWN - Constantia businessman Rob Packham has on Tuesday, defended "unwittingly" missing an appointment with the investigating officer in his wife's murder case, scheduled for the day after her body was found.
On the night of February 22 last year, after his wife's body had been found in the boot of her burnout BMW at the Diep River train station, he told Sergeant Ivan Sonnenberg he was too tired to go to the police station.
"I said I had had a terrible day, I am exhausted and could I do it in the morning. He said yes I may," Packham told the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Senior State prosecutor Susan Galloway, during her second day of cross-examination, said Packham's cellphone signal was picked up the following morning in Clifton.
"The day before your evidence is that you were so numb, so emotional, struggling to get your wife reported missing. That is the picture you are painting. Now, the police involved in looking for your wife, or addressing the question of her car...you say I will see you tomorrow morning at 8.30am. But then when you can't sleep, you go on a scenic drive missing the appointment."
Packham said he had assumed the worst and was in a state of shock. He had driven to all the beautiful viewing spots they used to go to: "I thought, how could this have happened to us?"
Galloway said Packham had made no enquiries about the progress of the investigation in the following days, and questioned why Packham had not been to see the police.
"We were waiting for the DNA on the body. I wasn't going to hound the police. They said they would let me know," he said.
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 her 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.
Packham told the court that he tried to report his wife missing at the Wynberg police station but was told he needed to go to the Diep River police station where he would be given a reference number.
"Even though the Wynberg police officer said you must go to Diep River [SA Police Service] SAPS to sign the forms and get reference forms for a missing person case, you never went."
Packham conceded this: "I never did. I had intended to do it on my way to my sister's but for some reason I forgot."
He said he had not asked Sonnenberg about the investigation because "we were seeing him every day or two".
Earlier on Tuesday, Galloway turned the court's attention to Packham's private phone that he used to contact his mistress.
He conceded sending his former lover a message at around 8.30am on the morning of his wife's disappearance, telling her he had overslept. But Galloway pointed out that according to his version, at that time he was driving to car dealerships to find a new car for his wife.
"I was in the habit of sending her (former mistress) a message at the start of the day," Packham told the court. But that morning he had not, so had "clumsily" sent her that one.
Galloway pointed out that he had not said he had gone to car dealerships in his statement, but had "tried to create the impression" that he had gone to work at the Twizza cooldrink plant.
Packham said he could not explain why his visit to car dealerships was missing in his statement, but conceded that he had read and signed it.
Two days after his wife's disappearance, he allegedly sent his former mistress, Witness X, (she cannot be identified by order of the court), a message saying the madness would soon be over and then they could be together.
Packham told the court he did not remember sending that message, but did not dispute sending it.
Packham's vehicle also came under the spotlight as Galloway questioned him about his car's tyres.
His car was photographed on February 23 and again in August. When police took possession of the car in August the tyres had allegedly been changed. According to a tyre track expert, the tyre tracks at the crime scene did not match the new tyres. However, the expert found that photographs comparing the tyre tracks at the railway station to those photographed on February 23 could have been the same.
But Packham said he did not know if the tyres photographed in August were his and was adamant that he hadn't changed the tyres.
The State is expected to wrap up cross-examination on Wednesday.
African News Agency (ANA)