Cape Town - Rob Packham was “unfaithful”, but he and his wife Gill were a “devoted couple” who were dealing with their problems together, said a source claiming to be close to the family.
In a series of text messages the source - who did not provide his or her identity - complained to Weekend Argus about “hurtful” and “sensationalised” media coverage of Gill Packham’s murder.
Packham, 57, is to stand trial for murdering Gill, also 57, in their Constantia home on February 22, 2018.
The State alleges Packham killed his wife of 30 years “by hitting her with a blunt object and/or inflicting violence the forms of which is unknown to the State.”
On the second count of defeating or obstructing the course of justice the State alleges Packham set Gill’s car alight with her dead body in the boot, tampered with the crime scene and supplied false information to the police.
The first of five text messages sent over a series of days last week read: “You should work harder to get the facts right before you write about Packham. His wife did not kick him out, he definitely did not want an open marriage and all of your statements re the actual case are (hearsay) or circumstantial. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your writing does not belong in a respected newspaper.”
The second message sent last Thursday claimed that a Weekend Argus source close to Gill was “guessing”.
“They both actually agreed it would be good for them to miss each other for 10 days or so. Gill then begged him to come home which he did. They had reconciled and were working hard together to get through this. Please don’t make up stories. You are being malicious to the family. Their counsellor can confirm.”
Last Friday morning the source sent another SMS: “He had been unfaithful, but knew it was not sustainable as he did not want his activities to wreck the marriage. He voluntarily disclosed this to Gill late last year. Although tough for both it was the right call. They immediately started counselling as both wanted to work it out. The insinuations are not true.”
Asked for a name, the source followed up with: “I am close to the family and am sensitive to how hurtful some media has sensationalised this family tragedy and how so many facets have been misrepresented. He is devastated by Gill’s death. Despite his past infidelity they were actually a devoted couple. They had problems but were facing them together as a couple.”
Further attempts to corroborate the source were ignored in the next SMS. “Btw he is just a humble family man. He adores his family. He is not a rich, flashy businessman.
“He is facing hefty legal bills to clear his name so has been forced to put his family home on the market to free up funds. Very difficult for the family.”
Attempts to make verbal contact with the source were ignored.
When asked for comment Packham’s lawyer Ben Mathewson requested a transcript of the SMSes. In a subsequent WhatsApp message he said: “The author of the SMS messages is unknown to me and I was not able to ascertain who the sender was, therefore the content cannot be verified.”
He declined to comment any further.