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Susan Rohde was 'manually strangled'

Jason Rhode File picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Jason Rhode File picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Published Nov 23, 2017


Susan Rohde was subdued, swallowing blood and in pain before she was manually strangled.

This was the testimony of State witness Deidre Abrahams, the head of the Paarl Forensic Pathology Services, who took the stand at the Western Cape High Court yesterday.

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Rohde died on July 24 last year.

Her husband Jason claims he found her hanging behind the back of the bathroom door of the luxury Spier Wine Estate room in which they were staying during an annual work conference.

Jason stands accused of staging her suicide.

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Abrahams’s testimony followed that of the pathologist who did Rohde’s autopsy, Akmal Coetzee-Khan.

In his report, Coetzee-Khan said Rohde’s death “didn’t correspond with a hanging I was considering manual strangulation”.

Abrahams yesterday testified that the other injuries to her body were “ante mortem” - carried out before her death.

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She said: “There was blood on the bedding, the floor and faeces around her body on different sites.

“Susan was in quite some pain. The blood in her airways needed to be cleared and she was struggling to swallow, there was also blood found in her stomach.”

Jason’s defence team’s expert witness, pathologist Reginald Perumal, found Susan’s injuries to be consistent with hanging.

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Defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy had previously strongly disputed Coetzee-Khan’s autopsy, stating that “it did not make for logic”.

However, Abrahams said: “The external findings of the autopsy revealed signs of traumatic constrictive force with pressure to the neck, consistent with manual


Abrahams testified that there was a pale appearance over the tip of Susan’s nose and upper and lower lips, with the imprint of her teeth against the inner part of the mouth.

She said this showed that Susan may have been suffocated with a soft object.

Van der Spuy previously read out a detailed rundown of the events leading up to Susan’s death, to possibly explain where injuries on her body could have come from.

He said when Susan and Jason got to the hotel room after the conference, Susan changed into “just a bathrobe”.

After allegedly seeing Jason send a text message to his mistress a fight ensued.

“Susan went ballistic,” Van der Spuy said.

During the scuffle Jason said he swung his arms and one connected with her face.

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