CAPE TOWN - A forensic expert Reggie Perumal who had performed a second autopsy on Susan Rohde’s body and found that she had likely died after hanging herself took the witness stand on Tuesday in the murder trial of husband Jason Rohde.
Jason Rohde is standing trial in the Western Cape High Court after his wife Susan's body was found hanging by her neck by an electrical cord from a hook behind the bathroom door of the hotel room they shared at the Spier Wine Estate in 2016.
A state pathologist found that Susan Rohde died as a result of a lack of oxygen after manual strangulation and smothering, but a second autopsy conducted a week afterwards by Perumal suggested her injuries were consistent with ligature strangulation which tied in with Jason Rohde's version of events that he found his wife hanging by an electrical cord.
On Tuesday, defense Advocate Graham van der Spuy asked Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe if the court would allow him to expand on Perumal’s qualifications, previous performances, and experiences.
Perumal told the court that he had performed more than 10 000 autopsies, gave advice, and had also supervised a number of autopsies throughout his many years in the field.
The court further heard that Perumal, who is currently part of the team which is investigating scene two of the 2012 Marikana massacre, in which police opened fire on a crowd of striking mineworkers at Marikana in North West, killing 34 mineworkers and injuring 78 others, had also taken part in performing 17 autopsies in the Marikana killings.
He further told the court that he had testified in many high-profile cases in South Africa and was also hired by Oscar Pistorius to attend the Reeva Steenkamp’s autopsy in 2013 when he was accused of murdering her on Valentine's Day.
Earlier on Tuesday, State prosecutor Louis Van Niekerk told Rohde that the state would argue that he and Susan did not go to sleep that night.
“After you came back from Jolene, you continued with the argument, and at one stage you got so fed up that you just wanted her to shut up,” he said. Jolene Alterskye was Rohde’s mistress who was also at the hotel on the night leading to Susan’s death.
Rohde though rejected the accusation, saying: “That is not true! That is not true, Advocate. I’m not a murderer.”
“You got so fed up that you smothered her and when you noticed she was not breathing you panicked and you tried to stage her suicide,” Van Niekerk continued.
On Monday, van Niekerk told the court that the post-mortem results showed no signs that Susan Rohde had hanged herself, instead accusing her husband of lying to the court.
African News Agency/ANA