Cape Town – There is a "very important aspect of the sentencing process" that will come into play when former property mogul Jason Rohde is sentenced for his wife Susan's murder – "namely the issue of the interests of the children”.
This is the view of defence advocate Graham van der Spuy, who had successfully argued on Wednesday for a postponement of the sentencing to December 5.
“The two younger daughters are in fact twins. They are in matric at the moment and they are, as we talk now, writing their matric examinations.
"The idea is that then the daughters will be brought down to Cape Town over the weekend and they will be available for consultation purposes from Monday onwards and that seems to me to be a very important aspect of the sentencing process, namely the issue of the interests of the children.”
Their father was found guilty of murdering his wife and staging her suicide in July 2016 at a Stellenbosch hotel. Susan’s body was found with an electronic cord wrapped around her neck and hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room she shared with her husband at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel.
“We love you Dad, we know you are innocent and we want to testify for you.”
This was the message Jason’s twin daughters sent their father via a family member after receiving the news that he had been found guilty of murdering their mother at Spier Hotel in 2016, the Weekend Argus reported on Saturday.
The exact nature of their testimony is not known, but lawyer Tony Mostert confirmed the possible appearance of the Rohde siblings. “In all probability one or more will testify,” he said.
Jason’s 18-year-old daughters, Josie and Alexandra, who are writing matric exams at Diocesan School for Girls in Grahamstown, heard about their father’s fate as they walked into their Afrikaans exam.
“Their immediate reaction was pain and disbelief,” said a source close to the family, who asked for anonymity. “That was followed by, ‘When is dad getting out?’.
"The family member who broke the news then had to gently tell them that he wasn’t, that his bail had been revoked and he was going to jail for the murder of their mom.”
The twins’ message was conveyed to Jason by family, who visited him at Pollsmoor for the first time the day after Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe found him guilty of murder and defeating the ends of justice.
The Pollsmoor visit was very emotional, said the source. “Especially when Jason heard his girls wanted to testify. He smiled and there were tears in his eyes. It was clear it touched him. But he refused point-blank to allow it, despite protest from some family members.”
Jason’s eldest daughter Kathryn, 20, a Stellenbosch University student, is battling to come to terms with the judgment and is keeping a low profile, said the source.
“She’s damn strong like her dad but she’s also typical Jason and doesn’t talk. She keeps her emotions to herself.”
Sources said Jason was eventually persuaded by his lawyers to allow his daughters to testify during the mitigation of sentence argument.
In arguing for a delay of the sentencing process, Van der Spuy said on Wednesday: "On 8 November, the court postponed the matter for sentencing and at the time I indicated that I felt that approximately two weeks to the start of this would be sufficient time for preparation and presentation of the defence’s case, visibly the issue of sentencing.
"Numerous issues have risen and problems have occurred and it has become apparent that I completely underestimated some of the problems and some were really unpredictable, and we have tried to set out briefly and I am going to amplify them from my own personal knowledge, one or two aspects.
"We have tried to set it out briefly and critically in the affidavit to give the court an idea of the problem."