No missing person report when Gill Packham's body was found in her BMW boot, court hears

2019-03-12 14:26
Rob Packhamin court. (Jaco Marais)

Rob Packhamin court. (Jaco Marais)

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When Gill Packham's body was found in the boot of her green BMW at Diep River train station on the day of her disappearance, she had not yet been reported missing to the local police, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Warrant Officer Clive Muller, the State's fifth witness in the murder trial against Gill's husband Rob Packham, confirmed that the first he had heard of the Constantia woman who went missing on February 22 last year was when Dessie Rechner, of the Pink Ladies, called him after he started his shift at Diep River police station at 18:00 on the same day.

READ: Packham murder trial: Couple was planning to renew their vows, court hears

He had instructed a subordinate to go to the Packhams' Constantia house – about 3km away – and find a family member for first-hand information when a colleague from their policing cluster phoned him about the same woman.

While on the phone with the sergeant, he received another call from an officer on a different line who had received information of a car on fire at Diep River train station, Muller testified.

The officer had gone to the scene but could not make out the number plate of the burning car. When he confirmed a body was found in the boot Muller, as the senior officer, reported to the scene.

A bystander told him that a person had run away from the car, Muller said, and he had walked to his vehicle to take down the witness' details for follow-up.

No waiting period to report missing persons

A car approached and Rob, along with people who appeared to be his friends, got out of the vehicle.

Muller said Rob was introduced as the husband of the missing person and he asked them to go to the police station and wait for him there.

Muller testified that before coming on duty at 18:00 and before receiving the call from the Pink Ladies no one had reported Gill missing. The incident was also not noted in the station's occurrence book.

There is no waiting period to report someone missing, he told Judge Elize Steyn, maintaining that this fact was widely publicised.

On Monday, Rob pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife and a charge of obstruction of justice.

He was arrested last year on the same day his wife's body was identified by means of forensic DNA comparison.

Claims of fake alibi

She had died of blunt traumatic head injuries and her corpse was burnt post-mortem.

Earlier, Rob's former colleague, Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg, testified that the general manager had called him in the early afternoon of the day of his wife's disappearance and had asked him to say, should anyone ask, that they had been in a meeting at 08:30 that morning.

Janse van Rensburg, who at the time was a logistics manager at Twizza in Bellville, had a glass office across the corridor from Rob.

He had left for a meeting at 09:30 that morning and had at the time not yet seen Rob.

Janse van Rensburg said the accused phoned him at 12:23.

He called him "buddy, buddy", Janse van Rensburg testified, which he found strange as Rob usually refers to him as "Lodie".

'Alibi' reported to HR

He said Rob told him that he was driving around looking for Gill and that she had not been seen since 07:00 that morning.

Janse van Rensburg told the court that Rob said Gill and their daughter, Nicola, had fought with him the previous night.

He agreed to tell anyone who asked that he had been in a meeting with Rob at 08:30 because Rob "was the general manager and was looking for his wife".

ALSO READ:Murder-accused Packham fights second bail violation allegation

Rob sounded relieved when he agreed, Janse van Rensburg said. He, however, later reported it to human resource management and the production manager because he "felt uneasy".

He also had a WhatsApp message in which Rob references the 08:30 "hook-up".

During cross-examination, advocate Craig Webster, SC, put it to Janse van Rensburg that his client had said that he should say this if Gill phoned.

Apology for 'offensive material'

Janse van Rensburg conceded that this was possible. He said it was known that Gill phoned their Twizza colleagues to check up on Rob, but that she had never called him personally. Janse van Rensburg also knew of the Packhams' marital problems.

Webster also pointed out that Nicola had been in Johannesburg at the time of the supposed fight. Janse van Rensburg said he didn't know this.

Webster also referenced an apology sent by Janse van Rensburg to Gill for sending Rob "offensive material".

News24 understands it was a photo of an adult nature.

ALSO READ: Court orders Constantia man accused of wife's murder to hand over his Audi to investigators

Janse van Rensburg said he understood it had been seen by Nicola, and that Rob had asked him for his phone, typed the apology and sent it to his own device.

Twizza fleet controller Cornelius Vermaak also testified that he did not see Rob when he had been at the administrative offices between 07:30 and 08:00 that morning, but had seen his car pull into the premises at about 10:00.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

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Read more on:    rob packham  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime

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