Jason Rohde cuts costs, reduces his legal team

2018-02-21 13:00
Murder accused Jason Rohde is seen as he leaves the Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

Murder accused Jason Rohde is seen as he leaves the Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger, file)

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Cape Town - To cut costs, former property mogul Jason Rohde has terminated the services of almost every member of the team representing him in his Western Cape High Court murder trial.

Rohde, who is accused of murdering his wife Susan, has instead held onto only one advocate, one attorney and expert witnesses.

"The financial means of Mr Rohde are of such a nature that there has been an election to limit the costs to that of one counsel and the costs of experts," advocate Pete Mihalik said in court on Wednesday when he announced the withdrawal of most of the defence team.

READ Rohde Trial: Court hears Jason Rohde has been 'hospitalised'

The instruction to terminate services was received on February 14.

His defence team was initially made up of advocate Graham Van der Spuy, Mihalik, advocate Ross McKernan, attorney Daniel Witz and attorney Stacey Webb.

Mihalik thanked Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe for her handling of the matter so far and left the courtroom along with the rest of the team who withdrew.

Arrest

Only Van der Spuy and one attorney remained.

Rohde was back in court on Wednesday, in a customary suit and tie, after being discharged from Crescent Clinic on Tuesday.

He was arrested at the clinic earlier in February after he failed to attend court on February 5 for a scheduled appearance.

He had been admitted to the clinic for treatment for depression after he went on a holiday to Plettenberg Bay.

However, Salie-Hlophe was not satisfied with the doctor's note that explained his absence and ordered his arrest at the clinic.

Before leaving, Mihalik told Salie-Hlophe that certain admissions had been made, but had not been signed off.

He did not provide further details, other than to say that there was also a "privilege" issue which made his continued defence of Rohde no longer possible.

"If we proceed we will be in breach of our duty toward our client and, as such we have no option but to humbly request this honourable court to permit ourselves to withdraw."

Van Der Spuy asked Salie-Hlophe for a postponement so that he could get up to speed with the case and deal with the "admissions".

He had focused on the medical aspects and needed time to regroup with the other aspects of the case.

He said Rohde wanted the case to be disposed of as soon as possible.

After a short adjournment for a private discussion between the judge, prosecutor Louis Van Niekerk and Van der Spuy, the court postponed the case to 12:00 on February 27.

Rohde has been charged with the murder of his wife Susan who was found dead in their bathroom at Spier Wine Estate on July 24, 2016.

She had joined him for the annual Sotheby's conference and they started arguing in the early hours of the morning over an estate agent with whom he had an affair. He was also accused of staging the scene to make it look like a suicide.

He pleaded not guilty.

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Read more on:    jason ­rohde  |  cape town  |  crime

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