Jason Rohde File picture: Siphephile Sibanyoni/ African News Agency (ANA).
Jason Rohde File picture: Siphephile Sibanyoni/ African News Agency (ANA).

Rohde trial debates whether Susan was still alive when found

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 6, 2018

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Faeces-like marks found next to Susan Rohde’s body, at the bathroom door and at the entrance to the hotel room could be attributed to contamination at the scene, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Property mogul Jason Rohde’s trial resumed on Monday, with Dr Izak Loftus, the second forensic pathologist for Jason Rohde's defence team, arguing that his wife Susan could have died from hanging herself rather than being murdered.

Loftus testified that an absence of faeces behind the door‚ from which Susan was found partially hanging‚ could be testimony to the fact that she was still alive by the time Jason raised the alarm at Spier hotel in July 2016.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk said he believed Susan was already dead by the time she was on the floor, News24 reported. "The State will argue that Susan was already dead when CPR was started by the accused, and thereafter joined by Mr Thompson."

He said he believed there would have been a period of up to 26 minutes from 8am when she was hanging behind the door, partially suspended, before the door was opened.

Loftus said people who hanged themselves could die "almost instantaneously" or take a longer time to die, depending on what happened.

"I am quite sure that ultimately the deceased died there on the floor, when she entered somatic death. Until that, she was most probably still alive. She wasn't dead within seconds or so."

Van Niekerk questioned why no faeces had been found on the back of the door or her gown.

Loftus said: "If she died behind the door, that is where I would expect urine and faeces to be deposited. That would explain (why) the deceased was most probably still alive when the accused entered the room."

He added that he would have been concerned if faeces were found on the gown, "because that means she passed it while she was hanging".

Van Niekerk put it to Loftus that he had failed to take all the evidence into account, specifically the possibility that the death was staged, and that Susan had not committed suicide.

Loftus disagreed and said he had seen signs that were consistent with a ligature being applied to her neck while she was still alive.

"It doesn't fit in, the scenario, to me of a staged strangulation or hanging."

The trial continues on Tuesday.

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