Cape Town - Property mogul Jason Rohde has been found guilty of the 2016 murder of his wife Susan Rohde at a Stellenbosch hotel.
Delivering judgement on Thursday, Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said the court was satisfied, taking into account the evidence before it, that the State had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt and that Rohde’s version was not reasonable possible true and accordingly rejected it.
“The court finds that you murdered the deceased and then staged the scene to give the impression of her suicide. Furthermore, in light of the nature of the injuries, the manner and the cause of death, the court finds that you had direct intention to kill the deceased. I, therefore, find you guilty on both counts as charged,” said Salie-Hlophe.
Rohde was also found guilty of obstructing the ends of justice.
Jason Rohde was arrested after Susan Rohde’s body was found with an electronic cord wrapped around her neck and hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room they shared on July 24, 2016, at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel. The State had argued that she was murdered by her husband, but the defence insisted it was suicide.
State forensic pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan performed the first autopsy on Susan Rohde’s body and had concluded that she was murdered.
The court was adjourned until November 21 for sentencing and his bail was withdrawn. The court agreed on the sentencing date following defence advocate Graham van der Spuy's request that the defence would be placing evidence of a mitigatory nature before the court. This would include the calling of further expert witnesses and tabling of further evidence.
He also requested that his client be granted bail until the sentencing date, stating that his client's track record has been 100% throughout the process that he has been granted bail in this matter.
"He has never failed once to report, to sign in, to get permission, or to come to court with the sole exception of February this year when he was hospitalised with a major depressive episode. The court does have, as I understand it, a bail bond to the value of R100,000 which has been his bail up to now. And I request that this bail be extended at least until the 21st of November."
Judge Salie-Hlophe rejected the request stating that due to the facts before the court, the matter was a very serious offence and the court had already convicted him.
The defence then indicated that Rohde will be applying for leave to appeal. "And my lady, if I could address the court on that aspect, obviously, it is premature at this stage for me to go into any depths or discussions of any nature already, regarding applications for leave to appeal. I have been indicated that I will be getting instructions that it is the intention of the accused to apply to this court for leave to appeal."
African News Agency (ANA)