Specialist forensic pathologist Dr Izak Loftus again took the stand in the trial of murder accused Jason Rohde at the Western Cape High Court. PHOTO: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Susan Rohde did not die immediately - she was taken from the ligature and an attempt was made to resuscitate her.

This is according to defence forensic pathology expert Dr Izak Loftus.

On Tuesday, Loftus concluded his testimony in the Western Cape High Court in the trial of former property mogul Jason Rohde, who faces a charge of murdering his wife, Susan.

The defence claims Susan committed suicide by hanging herself with an electric cord hooked on the bathroom door in room 221 at the Spier Wine Estate hotel on July 24, 2016.

However, the State argues that Jason smothered Susan to death and staged the murder as suicide by hanging.

Loftus said it was his opinion that the ligature was placed around Susan while she was alive.

“I believe beyond reasonable doubt that deceased on that morning didn’t die instantaneously. She was rescued, taken off the ligature, unsuccessfully resuscitated and in that period, passed urine; that was the process of dying,” he said.

Loftus said cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was unsuccessful as she was in the process of dying.

“I am confident that ligature mark (on Susan’s neck) is ante-mortem and not post-mortem,” he said.

It is the State’s argument that Susan’s body was dragged from the bedroom to the bathroom, where she was found hanging by the hotel’s handyman, Desmond Daniels, and Jason.

The State argued that faecal matter found in three areas - near the entrance to room 221, on the floor at the entrance to the bathroom as well as on the floor where her body was lying - was an indication that she was moved.

However, Loftus said if the court accepted that the fluid found in the bathroom and between Susan’s knees was urine, she died there. “As I stand here I believe beyond reasonable doubt she died while she was lying on the floor.”

Loftus said the rib injuries observed in the autopsy were commonly found in cases where CPR was conducted.

“There is a history of CPR, looking at the size of the deceased - a male person can exert a lot of force when doing CPR and the post-mortem findings described are commonly expected,” he said.

A new witness is expected to testify today. 

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Cape Argus