Jason Rohde won't testify for lesser sentence, but his daughters might

2018-11-21 14:20

Convicted murderer Jason Rohde does not plan to take the stand to testify for a lesser sentence after being found guilty of murdering his wife Susan and staging her suicide, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

However, their three daughters might.

The eldest, Kathryn, is a second-year university student and the twins finish writing their matric exams this week.

READ: Jason Rohde found guilty of murdering his wife

Defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy told Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe during sentencing proceedings on Wednesday morning that he needed more time to consult with them.

Salie-Hlophe found Rohde guilty of murdering his wife at Spier hotel in July 2016 and obstructing justice by trying to make her death look self-inflicted.

The property mogul had "staged her death as a play" and roped in various "actors" and "extras" to tell a story that she had committed suicide, she said during her judgment earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the court was given an affidavit by Rohde and one of his legal representatives, Tony Mostert, as part of an application for a postponement.

Lawyer to consult with daughters, Rohde

Van der Spuy argued that various problems and issues had arisen, leaving inadequate time to consult with key witnesses.

"There was a strong need to consult with the accused's daughters for obvious reasons," he said.

Van der Spuy said he would still make a final judgment call on whether it was in the daughters' interest to be called as witnesses.

"I don't want to do something to harm them in any way or to place them at risk of any emotional or similar distress. I will need to consult with witnesses to get advice in that regard."

Van der Spuy said he would speak with Rohde.

"Up to now, his approach has been very much not to have his daughters drawn into the case."

Rohde stated in his supporting affidavit that his daughters wished to testify in mitigation of sentence.

He said that his legal team requested that Kathryn's evidence be given in camera, meaning that the public and press would be barred from being in court.

Rohde testimony not part of the plan

"The State is not supportive of the request and this aspect will have to be dealt with prior to the sentencing hearing."

In his affidavit, Mostert explained how the defence had struggled to meet with the daughters' clinical psychologist.

With the consent of the State, they had been trying, unsuccessfully, to obtain copies of their patient files.

"The evidence of the Rohde children as well as information obtainable from them is critical insofar as the accused is their primary caregiver and they are and continue to be reliant upon him to maintain the Plettenberg property as their home as well as to provide for their education, upkeep, maintenance, et cetera," Mostert stated.

Salie-Hlophe asked if Rohde would be testifying.

Van der Spuy replied: "It is not my plan to call Mr Rohde, the accused, and I will be referring to the personal information concerning him which was led when he testified on the merits under oath [during his trial]."

He complained that conditions at Pollsmoor prison were not ideal for consulting with Rohde.

The court granted a postponement until December 5.

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