CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape High Court sentenced convicted wife killer Jason Rohde to an effective 20 years behind bars on Wednesday.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe described the murder as "brutal" and "shocking" and said it warranted a deviation from the minimum sentence of 15 years.
She sentenced him to 18 years for murder and five for defeating the ends of justice, three of which were ordered to run concurrently.
The former Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International CEO had attended a conference at Spier in Stellenbosch in 2016. His wife Susan insisted on joining him after finding out about his affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.
In November last year, he was convicted of strangling his wife and then trying to stage her suicide.
Handing down the sentence, Judge Salie-Hlophe said: “The death and loss of such a remarkable person, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a friend, is itself a traumatic experience. By blaming her for demising circumstances where you have murdered her, added insulting injury. You sought to tarnish her legacy and by simulating her death as a suicide, you left her loved ones to further suffer in their grief and speculate in anguish as to what motivated Susan in taking of her own life.
"You showcased her Mr Rohde, regardless of the obligation you owed to protect her, you owed her body, you owed her dignity and her legacy. You committed this offense in a cruel and selfish pursuit to escape the letter of the rule and defeat the ends of justice," the court found.
"For the reason set out above, I’m satisfied that a sentence of long term imprisonment is called for in these circumstances. Accordingly, Mr Rohde, on count one, you are sentenced to 18 years direct imprisonment. Turn into count two, which is also a serious crime, you are sentenced to five years of direct imprisonment. It is ordered that in terms of section 280 of the criminal procedure act, the three years of the five years imposed on count two shall run concurrently with that imposed on count one."
Rohde, who was further declared unfit to possess a firearm, remained stony-faced throughout the sentence and was led down to court cells shortly afterwards.
He was arrested shortly after the body of Susan was found with an electric cord wrapped around her neck and hanging from a hook behind the bathroom door of the room the couple shared.
His defence lawyer is expected to appeal the conviction and sentence.
In a statement following the sentence, Western Cape police management praised both the prosecution and detective teams for the successful conviction.
"Our extensive investigation saw detectives employing the services of a police forensic expert to examine the bathroom door to prove that a murder had been committed as opposed to suicide as previously claimed," said police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana.
Provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-general KE Jula, said: “It is encouraging that as the country battles incidents of gender-based violence we are able to secure the sentence. We trust that the sentence will offer some form of hope to the families of women who have suffered a similar fate.”
Jula commended the Stellenbosch detective team comprising of Sergeant Marlon Appolis and Sergeant Stephen Adams under the command of Colonel Deon Beneke, who in 2018 secured convictions and sentence of Henri van Breda, for murdering three members of his family, as well as the successful convictions and sentences of Geraldo Parsons, Vernon Witbooi, Eben van Niekerk and Nashville Julius for the murder and rape of Stellenbosch Hannah Cornelius.
"It is remarkable that the same detective team is able to secure convictions and sentences in three major cases from the same area during in such a short period."