Cape Town - Femicide in South Africa is more than a crisis. Society is yet to wake up to how dire the situation is.
This was how women’s rights advocacy organisation Ilitha Labantu reacted after the sentencing of former property mogul and convicted wife-killer Jason Rohde.
“Femicide is definitely a huge problem. It has reached epidemic rates,” said the organisation’s spokesperson, Siyabulela Monakali.
“Not a day goes by without us hearing of a woman who has been killed by her partner, boyfriend, ex-lover or husband. This issue has passed crisis phase, but the sad part is that not all cases are treated with the same level of urgency,” Monakali said.
On Wednesday, the Western Cape High Court sentenced Rohde to an effective 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder of his wife Susan.
Rohde was sentenced to 18 years for the murder and five years for obstructing the ends of justice. Three of the years in the second count will run concurrently with the murder charge.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said it was undeniable that society was experiencing high levels of violent crime, “and in particular with reference to this case, violent crime against women”.
According to 2013 statistics, South Africa was the capital of intimate homicides, at 57%, compared with an average of 39% globally.
“It is thus important and the duty of the courts to contribute in our role as the justice system to impose appropriate sentences, particularly where women are murdered in the context of marriages, their relationships and their homes,” she said.
Susan’s body was found with an electric cord wrapped around her neck in a locked bathroom, in a room she shared with Jason, at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel on July 24, 2016.
Judge Salie-Hlophe said Jason had direct intent to murder his wife.
“Susan died a painful and gruesome death. She didn’t die immediately. She suffered. You executed successive blows and fatal force in the taking of her life,” she said.
She further said Jason had used his skills in property selling in the staging of Susan’s suicide, using her body as a “show house”.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the NPA believed justice had prevailed.
The provincial police management praised the prosecution and detection teams for their sterling work.
Provincial commissioner Khombi- nkosi Jula congratulated the detectives who worked on the case. “It is encouraging that as the country battles incidents of gender-based violence, we are able to secure the sentence. We trust that the sentence will offer some form of hope to the families of women who have suffered a similar fate.”