Torn be­tween their mother and killer dad

The Herald (South Africa) - - News - Dave Cham­bers

Ja­son Ro­hde’s three daugh­ters are stand­ing by him as he faces sen­tenc­ing for mur­der­ing their mother.

So­cial worker Rian Perry told the high court in Cape Town on Wed­nes­day that the three – Katie‚ 20‚ and twins Alex and Josie‚ 18 – were torn be­tween griev­ing for their mother‚ Su­san‚ and fear­ing the loss of their father.

Perry‚ who works for the Western Cape so­cial devel­op­ment de­part­ment‚ said he had in­ter­viewed all three daugh­ters while pre­par­ing a vic­tim im­pact re­port.

Ini­tially‚ they had been re­luc­tant to speak to him be­cause they dis­trusted the le­gal sys­tem‚ but once they un­der­stood his role as an im­par­tial party, the in­ter­views had gone ahead, Perry said.

It emerged that the only daugh­ter likely to give ev­i­dence on Thurs­day in mit­i­ga­tion of her father’s sen­tence is Katie‚ but prose­cu­tor Louis van Niek­erk told judge Gayaat SalieHlophe she would ap­ply for per­mis­sion to tes­tify in cam­era.

Ro­hde was con­victed on Novem­ber 8 of mur­der­ing Su­san at Spier‚ in Stel­len­bosch‚ on July 24 2017.

Perry said Alex and Josie had been brought to his of­fice in Wyn­berg by their ma­ter­nal grand­mother‚ Diane Holmes‚ af­ter they com­pleted writ­ing ma­tric ex­ams at Dioce­san Col­lege for Girls in Gra­ham­stown‚ where they were boarders.

“Alex said she was close with her mother and had a play­ful re­la­tion­ship‚ of­ten teas­ing and jok­ing with each other‚” he said.

“Josie said she had a closeknit re­la­tion­ship with her mother and they had talked daily.”

Both had con­sid­ered Su­san their “main par­ent” be­fore her death‚ they said‚ and af­ter­wards Ro­hde took on that role.

“Alex shared her feel­ings‚ and although she was emo­tional she could voice her opinJosie

Alex felt as if she were liv­ing in a bad dream af­ter learn­ing about Su­san’s death

ion. She said their lives had been turned up­side down.”

Perry said Alex had said she felt as if she were liv­ing in a bad dream af­ter learn­ing about Su­san’s death.

“As they started to face the re­al­ity‚ their father was ar­rested and since then their lives and emo­tions have been made un­sta­ble‚” Perry said.

“She be­lieves they should have been deal­ing with their mother’s death‚ but it has been made im­pos­si­ble for them.”

Alex had told him she of­ten had to stop her­self think­ing about her mother. She had tried coun­selling but stopped be­cause it was not help­ful.

“She said she tried to fo­cus on work and sport at school.

“She was able to main­tain good aca­demic marks‚” but me­dia re­ports about her mother’s death and father’s trial had both­ered her be­cause she felt jour­nal­ists were “go­ing af­ter sen­sa­tion”.

“clearly found it dif­fi­cult” to talk about the ef­fect her mother’s death had had on her and she be­came tear­ful.

She told them all as­pects of her life had been af­fected‚ in­clud­ing her thoughts and feel­ings about her fam­ily.

She had not been able to deal with los­ing her mother‚ and had tried ther­apy but stopped when she “found no change in her prob­lem­atic think­ing”.

“[Both girls] have re­mained aware of the on­go­ing strug­gle within both sides of fam­ily”, with their ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents griev­ing Su­san while Ro­hde’s par­ents were mainly con­cerned about their son.

“[The twins] do not think ei­ther side can fully sup­port three of them or re­place ei­ther of their par­ents.

“Both found it hard to talk about the sen­tenc­ing be­cause they do not want to lose their father.

“The girls be­lieve that if their father is jailed it will have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on them‚ and they ask the court to eval­u­ate the con­se­quences on them.

“They see them­selves as be­ing alone and be­lieve they need their father. They found it dif­fi­cult to ac­cept the re­al­ity of their father’s con­vic­tion.”

He said Katie told him she had been re­luc­tant to meet him. “She ad­mit­ted she felt my re­port was prob­a­bly go­ing to be used against her father.

“She in­di­cated to me that she wants to as­sist her father.”

Ro­hde’s ad­vo­cate‚ Gra­ham van der Spuy‚ will call wit­nesses in mit­i­ga­tion of sen­tence on Thurs­day. –

Pic­ture: AN­THONY MOLYNEAUX

AWAIT­ING FATE: Ja­son Ro­hde talks to his at­tor­ney, Tony Mostert, in the high court in Cape Town on Wed­nes­day

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