Former head of property group Sotheby’s, Jason Rohde testifies in the Western Cape High Court. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Jason Rohde, who is on trial in the Western Cape High Court for the murder of wife Susan Rohde, was on Thursday accused of being a liar by the State, which pointed out how he had downplayed a physical altercation with his wife in the hours before her death.

State prosecutor Louis van Niekerk told the court that Rohde lied on his statement to police, and also questioned him as to why he would say “disagreement” when giving his statement while he had admitted to his father-in-law that he and his wife had had a fight. 

Susan's body was found hanging by her neck by an electrical cord from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room they shared at the Spier Wine Estate in 2016.

Rhode responded by saying that he was embarrassed to mention in the statement to police that he had had a fight with his wife, as he was with his family at the time he was giving the statement.

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“Well, when I gave that statement I was with my family ... who wants to say or admit he had a wrestling match with his wife in front of the family,” he responded.

Pushing Rohde for an answer, Van Niekerk questioned: “So you lied?” 

Rohde countered by saying: “If you would like to use that phrase, then yeah, I lied. But to me, it was not a lie, but as I said I was embarrassed.”

Rohde and his wife had a physical altercation after she learned that he was still having an affair with a colleague, Jolene Alterskye, something which according to Rohde’s testimony was a new experience in their 23-years of marriage.

He told the court that his wife was “furious” on the night of her death after she caught him with Alterskye. He had been convincing Susan that he had stopped seeing her. Susan learned of the affair in February but believed Jason had ended it.

“She was absolutely furious, she just caught me with my mistress that I have been telling her that I have stopped seeing her for a couple of months,” he testified.

According to Rohde, he wanted to leave the room he shared with Susan to try and to get away from her. He said that Susan prevented him from leaving because he wanted to go to his colleague's room where his mistress was as well.

He told the court “at that point a combination of physical movements were involved,” adding that he tried to get her out of his way by handling her by her neck. 

Van Niekerk argued that he had throttled her against the wall, a statement Rohde denied saying it was incorrect and volunteered to demonstrate for the court.

Eventually, he moved out of the room and Susan followed him to his colleague's room and was standing outside demanding that he get out immediately. Rodhe testified that when he left the room with Susan the fight continued.

Van Niekerk insisted on why would she still continue with the fight when she had won by having him walk back to their room.

Rodhe reiterated saying that his wife was “furious” and that she would just not let go. 

According to the State, Rodhe had manually strangled his wife and staged her suicide.

The matter was postponed to Monday.

African News Agency/ANA