Detective: I found nothing to indicate Jason Rohde was a wife beater

2018-04-26 16:30
Jason Rohde in the Western Cape High Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Jason Rohde in the Western Cape High Court. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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The investigating officer assigned to probe Susan Rohde's death at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch on Thursday told the Western Cape High Court that he could not find anything to suggest her husband Jason assaulted her during their marriage.

Jason's lawyer Graham van der Spuy told Sergeant Marlon Appollis during cross-examination that an "outrageous suggestion" had been made by the doctor doing Susan's autopsy that she suffered from "battered wife syndrome". 

"Is there any history or indication that she was a battered wife?" he asked Appollis, a State witness.

READ: No signs at Spier to indicate Susan Rohde committed suicide - investigating officer

Appollis replied that he had checked for a history of assault and spoken with their domestic worker.

"I couldn't find anything and that is why I made no mention of that in any statements."

An indignant Van der Spuy said he should have made a statement to this effect, especially because the autopsy noted bruises to her thigh that were about a week old.

Alleged police failures in focus

Susan was found dead in the bathroom of the suite she and her husband shared at the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch in July 2016.

He had been attending the annual Sotheby's conference in his capacity as CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises and Susan accompanied him.

Police initially investigated Susan's death as a suicide but changed the case to murder after the autopsy revealed she died from manual strangulation.

Jason has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice by allegedly staging her suicide.

The cross-examination on Thursday focused on the ways in which the police allegedly failed to conduct a proper investigation from the moment the body was found.

Van der Spuy said his client had been helpful and cooperative, but was not treated this way by police.

Examination cancelled

On the day his wife's body was found, he wrote a statement to explain what happened at the hotel and waited at Stellenbosch police station to be examined by a district surgeon. However, that was cancelled without explanation.

The reason he flew back to Johannesburg the same day was to break the news to their children that Susan was dead.

Van der Spuy said Jason agreed to fly down to Cape Town again to point out where his wife had fallen and what had happened in an incident prior to her death, but was later told he would not be granted access to Spier.

Appollis said that was not true but could not explain why they met at an office in Cape Town instead.

Van der Spuy asked if Appollis rescheduled a session so that Jason could point out important locations.

The police officer replied that Jason's attorney at the time said nothing further was going to be pointed out and that they would supply him with a statement.

"And I am still waiting for that statement up until today."

Treatment in holding cells disputed

The defence said it came as a complete surprise to Jason when he was arrested at his family home, as he had agreed to visit a police station if necessary.

Appollis said he received an anonymous call that Jason was planning to leave the country and had to act quickly.

However, he could not remember whether the caller was a man or woman. And he said he later found no evidence that the accused had been planning to flee or that he was moving money out the country.

The defence lamented the way Jason was allegedly treated after his arrest.

Van der Spuy claimed he was handcuffed for several hours, paraded in front of the press and kept in the Stellenbosch police holding cells for seven days without a shower, toothbrush, toilet paper, exercise or sunlight.

Appollis said Jason had access to a shower and exercise area with sunlight and appeared in court within 48 hours. 

The trial continues.

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

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