Property mogul hires top team to fight murder charge
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Cape Town - Property mogul Jason Thomas Rohde has armed himself with a top-class pathology expert and an entire team of lawyers as he prepares to defend himself against allegations that he killed his wife Susan at Spier Wine Estate last month.
The pathologist conducted an independent investigation and concluded Rohde’s wife had committed suicide at Spier and she was not murdered, Rohde’s attorney, Tony Mostert told the Cape Argus on Tuesday.
He took issue with reports that a State post mortem report concluded Rohde’s wife had been strangled with bare hands.
“We have an independent pathologist who says there is no doubt that it was a suicide,” Mostert said.
He explained that, once Rohde and his legal team noticed the police investigation was moving “in a certain manner”, they called for an independent pathologist’s view in order to “safeguard our client’s position”.
“Since crucial evidence necessary for pathology is lost once a body is buried, it was necessary to act fast,” he said.
He described the pathologist as “most reputable” and “at the highest level”.
Mostert also said he was not the only attorney working on the case and Rohde has appointed a team of legal experts to handle what is expected to be a vehement defence.
Rohde, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International in South Africa, was arrested at his Bryanston home at sunrise on Tuesday and is being transported to Cape Town by car for his first court appearance on Friday.
”He is due to appear in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court soon on a charge of murder,” police spokesman FC Van Wyk said.
However, according to Mostert, the arresting officers did not present Rohde with a warrant of arrest, but rather a letter from an advocate at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions which requested his arrest.
“There are going to be consequences,” he warned.
He said that Rohde had an arrangement that police would not arrest him but rather let him know to hand himself over.
“The plan was that they would drive him down to Cape Town and we in turn would immediately lodge a bail application at the Western Cape High Court,” Mostert said.
He said Rohde was supposed to hand himself over “in a dignified manner”.
The body of Susan Rohde, 47, was found in a hotel room on the Spier wine estate near Stellenbosch, where the couple was staying to attend a function.
It was reported that her body was found with the cord of a hair-straightening iron around her neck.
Initial police investigations suggested that Susan’s death was a suicide. But it was reclassified as a murder investigation three weeks ago.