Rohde found guilty of murder
State evidence proves beyond doubt slaying was staged
IN a wrestling match with his wife Susan Rohde, former property mogul Jason Rohde punched her, manually strangled and smothered her with a pillow before dragging her body to the bathroom, where he staged it as a suicide.
This is according to Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, when she delivered a guilty verdict in the murder case.
She also found Rohde guilty of staging the murder as a suicide, which translated to obstructing and defeating the ends of justice.
Susan was found dead in a locked bathroom in a room she shared with Rohde on July 24, 2016, at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel.
She was found with an electronic cord wrapped around her neck.
The cord had been tied to the hook of the bathroom door.
It was Rohde’s version that she committed suicide because he raised the issue of divorce after she learned he had not ended an extra-marital affair with his employee, Jolene Alterskye.
“The accused must have dragged her from the bedroom, across the carpet, into the bathroom, causing the tangential injury to her left arm and shoulder.
“He could not have lifted her up and unaided wind the cord around her neck, as she was too heavy. So he would have laid her flat on the floor, wound the cord around her neck and retreated to the bedroom and locked the door,” she said.
Judge Salie-Hlophe said the State’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that the murder was staged.
“The accused had set a scene to tell the story that his wife had committed suicide. He staged her death as a play, setting in motion various ‘actors’ as his alibis.”
She said the call to handyman Desmond Daniels was part of the “play”.
After Daniels unlocked the door, Rohde revisited the scene to improve the play.
Judge Salie-Hlophe said he got in the bathroom to dress her in a robe, but had difficulties due to her body weight. The robe was put inside out. “You had direct intent to kill,” said Judge Salie-Hlophe.
After the verdict, a crying Rohde was handcuffed and led downstairs to the cells. He was denied an extension of his bail pending appeal. Sentencing proceedings will start on November 21.