'He loved this life but not his wife' - ex-mistress lifts lid on Rob Packham

19 March 2019 - 15:17 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Rob Packham in the dock at the Cape Town high court, where he is on trial for the murder of his wife, Gill in February 2018.
Rob Packham in the dock at the Cape Town high court, where he is on trial for the murder of his wife, Gill in February 2018.
Image: Esa Alexander

Cape Town murder-accused Rob Packham's former mistress revealed details on Tuesday about her extramarital affair with the businessman.

The woman, who cannot be named or photographed as per a court order, testified during his trial at the high court in Cape Town.

Packham, she said, had two cellphones but his family only knew about one of them during their relationship of more than three years.

"I was aware of two," she said. "He had another phone, which he referred to as a 'burner phone'. It was a phone, as I understood it … that his wife and family had no knowledge of."

The woman said she met Packham in October 2015 and their relationship lasted three years. He told her that he was separated from his wife, Gill.

She said Packham usually called her in the mornings and kept in contact during the day. They met at various places. "We were in a relationship. He continued to be in contact with me and I continued to be in contact with him," she said.

Packham allegedly killed Gill and put her body in the boot of her car before setting it alight at the Diep River railway station in February 2018.

According to the state, Packham was spotted by licence-plate recognition cameras that showed him driving Gill’s BMW, while cellphone towers showed that he drove around Constantia on the day of her disappearance.

Gill's charred body was found in the boot of the car after firefighters extinguished the flames.

Packham has pleaded not guilty.

The former mistress said Gill found out about their relationship in October 2017. She understood that Packham’s daughter had confronted him about his "extramarital relationships" and urged him to come clean or she would reveal them.

"At the time his wife discovered his extramarital relationships, divorce was an option," she said. "He [Packham] told me that he had a telephone discussion with an attorney …whose practice was in Westlake. He always said to me he was unhappily married and that he loved this life but he did not love his wife."

She said Packham called her on February 22 2018, the day Gill disappeared, and told her that he had overslept. She said the former manager of a beverage company also left a voice message on her cellphone telling her that he "was frazzled because his wife didn’t arrive at work". She advised him to check hospitals and report her missing to the police.

Packham told her that he had driven around on Gill’s regular routes but could not find her and that he intended to drive to her favourite beach.

The woman said she received an e-mail from Packham at 2am on February 24, although his counsel, Craig Webster, said: "It was a time that he [Packham] was highly stressed and has no recollection of sending you the message."

The former mistress said she met Packham at the V&A Waterfront in March 2018, just a few days before she broke off their relationship. She conveyed her condolences and asked him about his daughters.

She cut ties with him on March 25 - after his arrest on suspicion that he killed his wife. She said she ended the relationship in the interests of her children.

"Obviously, his arrest became very public. I felt it was not in the best interest to continue," said the woman.

"He tried for a couple of months to contact me via friends. I sought legal counsel and had a letter addressed to his counsel."

The woman said Packham made about 20 attempts to contact her. She said she had "items left outside my house, letters under the door and stuff delivered at my place of work".

"I also received flowers at my place of work and I received an SMS from an alias. I checked the footage… [and saw it was Packham]," she added.

Packham's bail was revoked in December. According to the prosecution, he breached his stringent bail conditions by sending SMSes to a mutual friend and to his former mistress.

In September, judge Nathan Erasmus released Packham under strict conditions after finding he had breached his bail conditions when caught on camera delivering flowers at his former mistress's workplace.

She also received emails from a person purporting to be Richard J Hopkins, who urged her to mend relations with Packham after he was charged with murder and included intimate details of their affair. She complained to the police.

Hopkins was unmasked as Packham. One of the conditions Erasmus imposed was that he should not have access to any devices capable of sending and receiving electronic communication.