Court hears of WhatsApp chat between Susan Rohde and her husband's mistress

2017-11-01 15:23
Jason and Susan Rohde (Facebook)

Jason and Susan Rohde (Facebook)

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Cape Town – WhatsApp chat messages were sent between handsets belonging to Susan Rohde and her husband's mistress in the hours leading up to her death, the Western Cape High Court has heard.

This was the evidence of data expert Warrant Officer Mias Engelbrecht in the trial of Jason Rohde, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Susan at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch in July 2016.

Engelbrecht told the court that he had extracted 25 000 pages of data from cellphones belonging to Susan, her husband and his mistress, estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

The witness told the court that his analysis revealed messages between handsets belonging to Susan Rohde and Alterskye from 05:50 on July 24 – the day that Susan’s body was found.

"I think the 05.50 [messages] was between the deceased (Susan Rohde) and Jolene," said Engelbrecht.

It was from Alterskye's handset, the court heard.

"And then at 07:02:06, a WhatsApp from Susan to Jolene," he added.

The last message sent from Susan Rohde's handset was to Alterskye's handset at 07:06, the court heard.

He added that the last communication between Jason Rohde's handset and Alterskye's handset was at "more or less" 10:45 on July 23, 2016.

AS IT HAPPENED: Defence cross examines witness on communication between Jason Rohde, mistress

Mistaked time of death

State pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan previously estimated, from the cooling-of-body temperature, that the deceased had died at 05:40 on July 24, 2016, with 95% accuracy.

However, during cross-examination, he said he made a mistake, by presenting the mean time of her death, and that he should have provided a range of between 02:00 and 08:00 on July 24. 

Engelbrecht continued that the analysis revealed which handset the messages had been sent from, but could not determine who sent the messages.

Engelbrecht also testified that the WhatsApp messages between the accused and Alterskye had been deleted from their phones by the time they were handed over to the police.

He told the court that neither of the cellphones had SIM cards.

Messages between Alterskye and Susan Rohde had also been deleted from Alterskye's handset. However, the messages remained on the deceased's handset, the court heard.

"When I received Jolene's number at a later stage, the messages that were on the deceased's phone was not on the phone of Jolene so it gave me an indication from Jolene's side that she also deleted messages," said Engelbrecht.

Suicide Google search

During cross examination, defence advocate Pete Mihalik asked Engelbrecht whether he was also able to extract a Google search on suicide methods on Susan's phone.

He said he was able to do so, but hadn't because he was not asked to conduct word searches.

It was initially alleged that Susan hung herself from the bathroom of their suite at the wine estate.

At the time, the Rohdes were attending a Sotheby's International Conference.

Jason Rohde used to be the CEO of the Geffen International Realty Franchises.

However, the investigation changed to murder and the accused was arrested.

The trial has been postponed to Thursday.

Read more on:    jason rohde  |  susan rohde  |  cape town  |  crime

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