Liar, mur­derer Ro­hde in jail

Prop­erty mogul con­victed of love-tri­an­gle killing

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE - CHEVON BOOY­SEN chevon.booy­sen@inl.co.za

THE Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) wants prop­erty mogul Ja­son Ro­hde to be handed life im­pris­on­ment for the mur­der of his wife Su­san.

Ro­hde, the for­mer Lew Gef­fen Sotheby’s boss, spent his first night in jail af­ter the court found that he staged a sui­cide in the bath­room of their room at the lux­ury ho­tel at Spier Wine Es­tate.

In con­vict­ing him of mur­der and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice, Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat SalieHlophe said Ro­hde mis­led the court as his ver­sion that his wife com­mit­ted sui­cide was “not pos­si­bly rea­son­ably true”.

NPA spokesper­son Eric Ntabazalila said it wel­comed the con­vic­tion and would re­quest life im­pris­on­ment.

Judge Salie-Hlophe said the court be­lieved the State proved its case be­yond rea­son­able and that Ro­hde had di­rect in­tent to kill his wife.

She said Spier “set the fi­nal scene of a love tri­an­gle which had formed some months be­fore” af­ter Su­san found a Valen­tine’s Day card in Ro­hde’s suit­case left by his mis­tress Jo­lene Al­ter­skye.

“The emo­tional hall­marks of in­fi­delity en­twined them­selves like creep­ing ivy into the lives of those af­fected: be­trayal, sus­pi­cion, pas­sion, sex, frus­tra­tion, anx­i­ety, anger and hu­mil­i­a­tion took its in­evitable shape,” said Judge Salie-Hlophe.

She said Ro­hde was not a cred­i­ble wit­ness when he took the stand.

“I have an is­sue with the ac­cused’s ver­sion. There are var­i­ous fea­tures which are puz­zling to which he could give no rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion. The ac­cused was bel­liger­ent and he adapted and strug­gled with his nar­ra­tive.”

The con­vic­tion came on the same day that Ro­hde’s twin chil­dren started their Grade 12 fi­nal ex­ams.

An emo­tional Ro­hde kept shak­ing his head in dis­be­lief as Judge SalieHlophe re­layed her in­ter­pre­ta­tion of events that led up to Su­san’s mur­der.

Re­fer­ring to a fa­cial im­print of Su­san found on a pil­low on the bed the cou­ple shared and where “a wrestling match” played out, Judge Salie-Hlophe said: “The de­ceased did not only leave a fa­cial im­print. She left a trail that told a story in her ab­sence.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ro­hde, he found his wife dead on the bath­room floor af­ter she hanged her­self on the bath­room door but a post-mortem found that foul play may have been in­volved.

It was the State’s case that Su­san was killed by man­ual stran­gu­la­tion, pos­si­bly in­clud­ing vi­o­lence by means un­known.

Judge Salie-Hlophe said Ro­hde tried to cover his tracks and “tes­ti­mony as to the events of the fate­ful morn­ing is in­ter­spersed with in­her­ent im­prob­a­bil­i­ties, and seen within the fac­tual ma­trix of the mat­ter, falls to be re­jected as not be­ing rea­son­ably pos­si­bly true”.

She said in­stead of con­tact­ing emer­gency ser­vices when he re­alised his wife might be in dan­ger, Ro­hde con­tacted ho­tel re­cep­tion to send main­te­nance, say­ing the bath­room door was locked and he could not ac­cess it.

“He stayed hid­den in the ho­tel room and waited for the handy­man to ar­rive. He quar­an­tined the scene and wanted the handy­man to be his al­ibi,” she said.

“His ver­sion of events on the morn­ing of his wife’s death came across as scripted, he showed dif­fi­culty in an­swer­ing ques­tions be­yond the facts to which he tes­ti­fied in chief, could not an­swer ques­tions cru­cial to the events of that mo­ment, and con­tra­dicted him­self in a num­ber of ways.”

In his plea ex­pla­na­tion, Ro­hde ad­mit­ted to an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair with Cape Town-based col­league Al­ter­skye.

While tes­ti­fy­ing Ro­hde said he “was an adul­terer but not a mur­derer”.

The mat­ter was post­poned to Novem­ber 21 for sen­tenc­ing.

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