Murder accused Jason Rohde suspended from Sotheby's

2016-09-23 19:19
Jason Rohde in court. (News24)

Jason Rohde in court. (News24)

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Cape Town - Murder accused Jason Rohde plans to report to work at Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty on Monday, despite the company confirming he has been suspended for an “internal HR matter”.

According to Rohde's court documents, he learnt he had been placed on extended leave via a group e-mail. His lawyer, however, said on Friday it was the first they had heard of his suspension.

The Stellenbosch Magistrate's Court on Friday granted the CEO of Geffen International Realty Franchises permission to return to Johannesburg. He argued that being forced to remain in Cape Town as part of his bail conditions was obstructing him from fulfilling his work conditions.

He had been living with his sister near Melkbosstrand since he was released on R1.1m bail.

Rohde was arrested at his Bryanston home in August and charged with the murder of his wife, Susan. She was found hanged in the bathroom of their hotel room at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on July 24.

The couple had been attending Sotheby’s annual conference.

Her death was initially thought to be a suicide, but a post mortem found that foul play may have been involved.

Rohde then commissioned pathological and forensic reports after police opened a murder docket.

According to the findings in the reports, Susan committed suicide.

Rohde was arrested a month after Susan’s death.

Internal HR matter

In an affidavit requesting that he be allowed to return to Bryanston to be with his children and do his work, prosecutor Carine Teunissen countered that chair Lew Geffen had told the State that Rohde had been suspended with full pay.

Rohde’s lawyer Daniel Witz said this was the first his client had heard of the action.

“He had received no notice, nor had he attended a hearing,” he said. “He will be reporting to work on Monday. He has no reason not to.”

The company’s spokesperson Samantha Bartlett said Rohde’s suspension was related to an “internal HR matter”, which was considered private, to protect the confidentiality of all parties.

Rohde said in his affidavit that he learnt that he was on extended leave via an e-mail sent to company staff by Geffen’s PA.

He is also the CEO of Glasshouse Realty, the real estate agency which trades under the franchise of Sotheby’s Reality International.

Rohde argued that if he was unable to be at this workplace, there was a real risk of its collapse.

According to his profile on the Sotheby’s Realty website, Rohde was appointed CEO after “fruitful exploits” as a property consultant, office manager, principal, and business owner.

He reportedly worked for a multinational developer after emigrating to Perth in the 1990s.

He entered the residential sales market and “quickly established himself as one of Johannesburg’s top property consultants” after he returned to South Africa in 1997.

Rohde started his own company in early 2000, his biography reads, and he merged with Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in 2005.

Parental support

The father of three said in his affidavit said he had to raise his daughters as a single parent and wanted to be with his children in Johannesburg to offer them emotional and parental support.

Teunissen argued his presence was not needed there as the teenagers attended boarding school. His two youngest daughters were in a boarding school in the Eastern Cape.

Rohde said he had enrolled his eldest daughter, in Grade 12, as a weekly boarder at her school since his arrest. She was forced to live with her friends when necessary, as his and Susan’s parents lived in the Western Cape and were too old to take care of her.

“There is no reason in law that I should be estranged from her any minute longer,” he said in his court papers.

Magistrate Greg Jacobs ruled that Rohde’s request was reasonable and granted it.

On Friday afternoon, Witz told News24 Rohde was still awaiting police permission for him to leave the city.

“Once we get this he will be on the earliest flight back to Johannesburg,” he said.

Rohde’s bail conditions were amended and he may not leave Gauteng without written permission from the prosecutor or investigating officer.

The matter was postponed to January 27 next year for further investigation.

Read more on:    jason ­rohde  |  crime

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