Susan Rohde's psychologist shocked by her 'suicide'

Cape Town - There was no indication that Susan Rohde was suicidal, her psychologist testified in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday where her husband Jason is being accused of her murder.

"I am saying, quite categorically, that I did not experience Susan as suicidal," Jane Newcombe told Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

Susan was found dead in a room at the Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, hanging off the back of the door of their suite's bathroom on the morning of July 24, 2016.

READ: Rohde's wife's family prejudged and ostracised him, court hears

At first, suicide was thought to be the cause of death, but this opinion later changed and her husband Jason was charged with her murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

The couple had been attending a conference at the venue because her husband was CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises.

"In my clinical judgment, Susan was more on the anxious side than the depressed side. She had not given up on life," said Newcombe, as she wrapped up a morning of testimony on Susan's discovery that Jason had been having an affair.


She said that when she heard that Susan had been found hanged, she was completely shocked.

"My immediate thoughts were 'what had I missed?'" she said.

She took her notes to a colleague with more experience than her and asked her to go through them to see if she had missed anything.

She was relieved when she was told there was nothing obvious.

Susan started therapy with Newcombe when she struggled to get over the affair her husband had been having with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

She found out about the affair when she discovered a Valentine card in his suitcase, and in the time after that, she had asked him to break off all contact with Alterskye.

READ: Valentine's Day card gave away Rohde's illicit affair

She even called Alterskye and told her to leave Jason alone in a conversation her psychologist described as "respectful".

But she battled to manage the aftermath of the affair and said sometimes she could not tell the difference between truth and untruths.

Newcombe said people in the same situation often battle with what was true and what was not.

She said Susan had insisted on going with Jason to the Sotheby's International Conference, even though he was against it.

She was 80% sure that the relationship with Alterskye was over, but wanted to see it for herself.


She had planned on relaxing and joining Jason for the big conference dinner on Saturday night and had hoped they would present a warm united front.

After she arrived, she was included in activities for partners of delegates. After the fun competitions arranged for them, they had a celebratory drink and got chatting about how women over 40 feel "invisible".  

The psychologist said Susan called her on the Friday night before her death.

She spoke about the "invisible" discussion and said a man in the group had complimented Susan and said she had nothing to worry about because she had the ability to light up a room.

READ: 'My penguin forever': Rohde love triangle revealed in WhatsApp record

She asked her therapist why Jason did not say things like that to her.

When they first met, they were very close, and soul mates but they had become distant.

Susan also sent her psychologist a message that weekend to say she had met Alterskye, and told her she hoped it was the last time they would see each other.


She had told Newcombe in therapy that she could not understand what Jason saw in Alterskye.

That was the last time Newcombe communicated with Susan and the news of her death shocked her.

She explained that Susan was anxious about what was going to happen in the future and what would happen to her family, but did not show the signs of despondency a depressed client would.

The court also heard that Susan had experienced marital upheaval between her own parents growing up, and had seen that it could be resolved.

Newcombe said Susan's life was not defined by her marriage.

She cared for her children, volunteered at an orphanage and had good connections with her friends.

However, Newcombe told the court that Susan felt she had nobody to talk to about the situation with Jason because he was the person she usually spoke to about problems.

"I would have had no indication that suicide was a possibility," said Newcombe.

The trial continues.

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