Desmond Daniels demonstrates how he helped untie Susan Rohde's lifeless body from the bathroom door of her Spier hotel room. Picture: Zodidi Dano/Cape Argus

Cape Town - The first person to witness Susan Rohde’s lifeless body hanging by a cord from the bathroom door hook of room 221 at the Spier Wine Estate, took the stand at the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Desmond Daniels, a maintenance worker, was giving evidence in the murder trial where former property boss, Jason Rohde, is accused of killing his wife, Susan.

Susan was found dead, on July 24, 2016, in a hotel room the couple had been sharing. 

It is the State’s case that she was murdered by Jason, who framed her death as a suicide, but the defence maintains that she hanged herself.

Daniels said he reported for duty at 7.30am on that fateful day. He said 45 minutes after starting duty he received a call about a bathroom door that wouldn’t open.

“I thought something must have happened, why wouldn’t the door open?”

On arrival, he was let into room 221 by Jason. He said he asked Jason what the problem was and was told the door wouldn’t open.

Daniels said he used a screwdriver to unlock the bathroom door.

He said the door could also be locked and unlocked using a teaspoon, coin or similar object. He told the court there were teaspoons in room 221.

"When I opened the door I saw a person lying down towards the basin. I opened the door about 30 centimetres ajar and saw the body from the knee down to the feet.

“The accused (referring to Jason) called 'Suzy'.

“He went in and there was silence for about two to three seconds. He then called me to help. He said I should help him remove the cord from the neck,” said Daniels.

Desmond Daniels shows how he opened the door to the bathroom. Video: Zodidi Dano/Cape Argus

Daniels demonstrated to the court how Susan was hanging.

He said Jason was carrying her body by his arms.

“When I went in the person was naked. She was not breathing,” said Daniels.

He said a curling iron was tied around the hook of the door with the tong facing up above the door with the plug hanging downwards.

“I removed the cord from her neck. It was not tight around the neck so I easily loosened it,” said Daniels.

After untying Susan, Daniels said he left Jason in the bathroom with her. He said he went out and called the control room to notify police and ambulance.

He didn't enter the room again on that day.

Defence advocate Graham van der Spuy told the court he needed time to consult his experts, get instructions from his client and also to visit the hotel before cross examining Daniels. He was given until March 14, to gather his facts.

The case continues with a new witness on Thursday. 

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Cape Argus