Mystery surrounds whereabouts of Susan Rohde's handbag, court hears

2018-04-26 18:41
Susan Rohde. (Image via Facebook)

Susan Rohde. (Image via Facebook)

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The whereabouts of Susan Rohde's handbag, which apparently contained the diary she kept after her husband, Jason, started having an affair in 2016, are unknown, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

During Jason's murder trial, defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy mentioned they had been looking for the bag, its contents and her vanity case for a long time.

"She had a diary she kept in her handbag. We were told no diary was found," Van der Spuy told investigating officer Sergeant Marlon Appollis during cross-examination.

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

During his evidence-in-chief on Tuesday, Appollis said that he did not find a diary when looking through the room for a note or anything pointing to a suicide.

The Rohdes were attending a conference at the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch at the time.

Susan was found hanging from a hook behind the hotel bathroom door.

Not guilty plea

Although her death was thought to be a suicide, her husband was later charged for her murder and accused of staging her suicide.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Appollis said earlier in the week that he handed over a pink suitcase found on scene with clothing inside after Jason's attorney at the time requested it. 

Van der Spuy said on Thursday that the pink suitcase actually belonged to his client and that his wife's handbag and vanity case were still missing.

He said the handbag contained items including a wallet with credit cards, perfume, lipstick and a small, soft-skin leather diary with an elastic band.

Appollis was adamant that it was not found or handed in by himself or his colleagues. 

'No one imagined he would be murdered'

He said police normally kept an inventory of items that were removed from a crime scene and returned any items to the family if they were not necessary for the investigation.

According to Appollis, Jason's attorney, Noorudien Hassan, had asked him for Susan's belongings and promised he would testify in court that he had received them from the police.

"No one imagined he would be murdered before then."

Read more here: Top Cape Town attorney murdered

Van der Spuy expressed his doubts.

He said there were court appearances in the few months between his client's arrest and Hassan's murder in which the attorney could have said something.

Van der Spuy said it confused him that there was no written statement to say police had handed over items to Hassan, he said.

Hassan surely would have handed over any belongings he received to the current legal team, he said.

Van der Spuy could also not fathom why Appollis testified that a diary was not found in a handbag when there was supposedly never any sign of her handbag in the first place.

"As I said, if there was any diary, it would have been confiscated," Appollis replied.

He was excused from the stand and the State closed its case.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe granted the defence's request for a postponement until May 28 so it could prepare its case.

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

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