Cape Town - Convicted murderer Jason Rohde’s eldest daughter Katie Rohde who was set to testify in mitigation of sentence at the high court in Cape Town on Thursday, changed her mind just minutes after she took to the witness stand.
Katie had just been sworn in when defence advocate Graham van der Spuy requested to address the court and told the Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe that the witness no longer wished to testify.
This followed after Judge Salie-Hlophe ruled that the media could remain in court and that an audio of Katie’s testimony could be broadcast without the cameras focusing on her. According to Van der Spuy, the 20-year-old Katie only agreed to testify without broadcast as she was under a lot of “unfair pressure”.
“My instructing attorney has mentioned to me that he explained the ruling relating to publicity to the witness as she was walking her in and she indicated that she doesn’t want to testify, she’s too frightened to,” said Van der Spuy.
“Now, may I request leave of the court to stand her down. We will speak to her and reassess the situation and when the court reconvenes to finalise the mitigation arguments, we might have her here or she might decide not to testify,” added Van der Spuy.
Rohde was convicted by Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe on November 8 of the 2016 murder of his wife Susan Rohde and defeating the ends of justice by staging her suicide.
Rohde has been in Pollsmoor prison since his conviction. He was arrested shortly after his wife’s body was found on July 24, 2016, with an electronic cord wrapped around her neck and hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room they shared at the Stellenbosch Spier Wine Estate Hotel.
Rohde will be remanded until his next appearance on February 18, after Judge Salie-Hlophe turned down Van der Spuy’s application for bail reinstatement. The defence said it would be calling two friends and former colleagues of Rohde, as well as Rohde's mother, Brenda Rohde, to give evidence in mitigation of sentence on his next court appearance next year.
African News Agency (ANA)