Cape Town - State pathologist and crime scene expert reports into the death of Susan Rohde at a Stellenbosch hotel contradicted each other, the high court in Cape Town heard on Wednesday.
Murder accused Jason Rohde’s defence advocate Graham van der Spuy was presenting his closing arguments in the case where his client is accused of killing his wife.
Susan Rohde’s body was found with an electronic cord wrapped around her neck hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room she shared with her husband on July 24, 2016, at the Spier Wine Estate Hotel. The State had argued that she was murdered by her husband, but the defence insists 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.
Van der Spuy told the court he suspected State advocate Louis van Niekerk was trying to suggest malice because when forensic crime scene expert and blood spatter analyst Captain Marius Joubert examined the deceased, he reported the bathrobe she was dressed in was turned inside out. The defence argued that this was never confirmed by the pathologist.
“Dr Khan was never asked what the position was with regards to her gown. But what we do know is that nowhere in Dr Khan’s report that he mentioned having found the deceased to be clothed with her dressing gown with bathrobe inside out,” Van der Spuy said.
“The point that was raised several times by my learned friend [Van Niekerk], and I suspect that he is attempting to riddle into his case the suggestion of something sinister involved in the fact that when Captain Joubert examined the deceased on Sunday the 24th of July, 2016, that her bathrobe was inside out, he mentioned that a few times,” said Van der Spuy.
“And I think that he is trying to link that up, I suspect, with the allegation that the accused, for whatever reason put the dressing gown on her after Mr Daniels had left the scene,” he added.
Desmond Daniels is the handyman who opened the locked bathroom door behind which Susan’s body was discovered. When Van der Spuy cross-examined Daniels, the handyman claimed Rohde had changed the position of the cord after he left the scene.
African News Agency (ANA)