Cape Town – Convicted murderer and former property mogul Jason Rohde might be “aloof and stand-offish, but that is just his nature”.
Those were the words of Rohde’s mother, Brenda Rohde, 69, on the witness stand at the Western Cape High Court yesterday during mitigation of sentencing.
Brenda - a shareholder in Lew Geffen Sotheby’s - and two of Jason’s friends gave witness to his character before his sentencing.
Rohde, a former Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International chief executive, was found guilty of murdering his wife, Susan Rohde, and obstructing the ends of justice by staging her suicide.
Susan’s body was found in a locked bathroom off a room she shared with Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel, in Stellenbosch, on July 24, 2016.
Her body was found with an electronic cord, which had been tied to a hook on the back of the bathroom door, wrapped around her neck.
Brenda pleaded with the court for leniency when sentencing her son, saying: “If for no other reason, for his children, who have been (greatly) affected.”
She said her son hated the “display of violence and was a gentle person”.
She said when Jason had been out on bail before his conviction, she had “had the opportunity to observe as more than an average grandparent” the bond between him and his daughters grow.
“(They) have a better relationship now than ever. I have great admiration (for his daughters) for their love and trust of their father. They are very strong girls who adore their father and look to him for guidance,” she said.
Brenda described Jason as a “normal child, easy to discipline and happy-go-lucky” and said she had never had any complaints of physical aggression.
“You have got to know Jason to love him. He may appear aloof or stand-offish, but if you get to know him you will see that is just the way he is,” she said.
State advocate Louis van Niekerk put it to Brenda that testifying about her son’s character put her “in a terrible position as a mother”.
He also suggested that there was an element of bias, to which Brenda replied: “I have just stated the facts. I am here to tell the truth and support my son.”
After Rohde was found guilty last year, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe revoked his bail of R100 000 and Rohde was remanded in custody.