Youngest Packham daughter will testify in her father's murder trial
Nicola Packham, 26, is believed to have been subpoenaed last month.
It is expected that she will shed light on her father’s infidelities, which she kept secret from her mother for years until a few months before she was murdered, on February 22 last year, and dumped in the boot of her car, which was later set alight at Diep River railway station, near Cape Town.
“Detectives apparently got wind that Nicola was about to fly to the UK and wasn’t sure if she was returning to South Africa. So they drove from Cape Town and arrived on her doorstep last month with a subpoena. They knew she is very close to her father and is reluctant to testify against him, which is totally understandable.”
Once served with a subpoena, a witness has to testify or risk a warrant of arrest for contempt of court.
It is common knowledge among Gill’s friends who remain close to her daughters that Nicola was aware of her father’s infidelities, said the source.
“She found out about Rob’s extramural activities when she was in high school after finding evidence on his cellphone. So she confronted her father. He promised her he would change his ways, but he continued his sexual behaviour right through Nicola’s university years.
“She didn’t want to tell Gill because she didn’t want to hurt her mother or get her father into trouble. Nicola is very much daddy’s little girl. It was a terrible secret for a daughter to keep. No child should be put in that position.”
When Nicola finished her studies at Stellenbosch University around October 2017 and knew that she was relocating to Johannesburg, she stopped covering for her dad.
“She knew she was no longer going to be around to control him,” said the source. “Gill was distressed. She was oblivious of Rob’s secret sex life. All hell broke lose. She tried to save her marriage. Five months later she was dead.”
A week later, on March 1, while Diep River detectives were telling Nicola and her recently married teacher sister Kerry, 28, that the burnt body in the boot was their mother, their father was arrested at home while he partied with friends.
From that moment on Nicola has believed that her father has been falsely accused of murdering her mother and has demonstrated it in public by being one of his most constant supporters during his numerous court appearances.
“Rob sat her down, looked at her in the eye and told her he didn’t murder her mother,” said the source. “And she believes her father.”
On Monday, Susan Galloway, the seasoned prosecutor who put family axe murderer Henri van Breda behind bars, will tell Judge Elize Steyn that she is seeking life imprisonment for Packham.
On the first count of murder she will attempt to prove that 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 she will allege, according to the indictment, 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.
In her summary of substantial facts, Galloway has already alleged that Packham was seen driving his wife’s car on the day she was murdered. “During late afternoon a motor vehicle fitting the description of the deceased’s vehicle was found near Diep River train station.
“The vehicle had been set alight. A male person was observed driving away from the scene. The identity of the male is the accused.”