Packham claimed he went car shopping for his wife when she went missing

2019-03-14 08:01
Rob Packham on Day 3 of his murder trial in the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Rob Packham on Day 3 of his murder trial in the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Murder accused Rob Packham claimed he went car shopping for his wife the morning she went missing, to replace her "old" BMW - the same one in which her burnt out body was found that night.

In a sworn affidavit sent to Twizza - the company from which he was fired last year - he maintained that he had not asked a colleague to lie for him to create an alibi, but to give this message to his wife Gill if she checked up on him because he wanted to keep his search for new wheels a "surprise".

The affidavit was sent to Twizza HR manager Terry Adams in May last year.

Packham had initially asked her for information regarding his provident fund after his dismissal following a disciplinary hearing.

In the witness stand in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, Adams said she sent it to her superior because she didn't understand why the statement had been sent to her and didn't want any involvement.

According to Packham's counsel, the accused had "wanted to tell Twizza his side of the story".

In the preamble to the statement, which was not read out in court but which was admitted as evidence, Packham stated that the affidavit was in response to allegations that he attempted to coerce colleague Lodewyk Janse van Rensburg into making a false statement about his whereabouts on the day his wife went missing.

Janse van Rensburg on Tuesday testified that Packham called him in the early afternoon of February 22, 2018 asking him to say, should anyone ask, that they had been in a meeting at 08:30 that morning.

He had agreed because Packham "was the general manager and was looking for his wife".

Janse van Rensburg, however, later reported it to human resource management and the production manager because he "felt uneasy".

As background, Packham stated in his affidavit that he and Gill had been seeing a marriage counsellor since November 2017 after he told her in October that he had had an affair.

"Notwithstanding her hurt and anger, she said she wanted to stay together and repair our marriage and work through this. This was my wish too, so we committed to each other to make it work," it reads.

According to Packham, they had made "great progress" in rebuilding their relationship during their few months of counselling and had planned to retake their wedding vows in April.

Gill, however, still had trust issues and would often get him to check in with her about where he was and what he was doing, he stated.

"Though frustrating, I fully understood her vulnerability in this regard and did my best to cooperate with her. She would also check my phone for any third party messages sometimes. I did my best to ensure I did not create any new trust concerns for her during this time.”

Read: Witness says he saw 'anxious' Packham in missing wife's car

On the day of her murder, Packham arrived at work after 09:00 as he had been "attending to some personal business on my way in".

According to him, he had gone to view vehicles because he wanted to get her a replacement car for her birthday the next month as hers was old and was becoming unreliable.

"She knew I was considering another car but she did not know I was actually working on it. I wanted to surprise her with it," he claimed under oath.

He said that he first knew there was a "problem with [his] wife" was when he got a call from the school where she worked, asking where she was.

He was "alarmed" because it was not like her to miss work. He received the call at about 09:30 and Gill, an administrator at Springfield Convent School, was usually at work by 07:30.

Repeated calls to her cellphone ostensibly went unanswered and he decided to try to find her.

"As I left the plant, I suddenly had a thought that she might have tried to follow me that morning, something she had done before to check up on me. As I had gone past quite a few car dealers, it is unlikely that she would have kept pace with me. I really wanted the new car to be a surprise so [I] did not want her knowing where I had been.

A 'harmless personal request'

"Not wanting to alarm her in any way if she was to check on me, I rang Lodweyk van Rensburg at the plant to ask him to cover for me if by chance she was to call to check where I was. I asked him to tell her I was around in the plant from about 08:30. He agreed to this request."

He described his call as a "harmless personal request for him to cover for me if required" and there was no intention on his part to "commit an act of gross misconduct as has [been] alleged by Twizza".

"He had to [cover for me] once before when my wife found naughty pics and jokes that he had sent me on my phone. As mentioned, she used to check my phone all the time. After that time, Lodewyk sent her an apology to ask for her forgiveness.”

On Tuesday, Janse van Rensburg testified that Packham typed the apology himself on his phone before sending it to his wife.

According to Packham's affidavit, his colleague had misunderstood his request or "something got lost in the English/Afrikaans translation".

"I swear I did not try to coerce or get Lodewyk to produce an alibi for me for the authorities, as is being suggested," he stated.

"My request was for him to give my wife, and her alone, the message should she call or visit the plant."

He suspected that as "events unfolded thereafter", Janse van Rensburg was "probably put under some pressure by the authorities".

"At that stage of the morning on 22 February, I had no knowledge of how the day was to progress and the tragedy I was to find myself immersed in."

The trial continues on Thursday.

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