Rohde's wife's family prejudged and ostracised him, court hears

2017-11-02 16:56
Jason Rohde leaves the Western Cape High Court amid a flurry of photographers. (File, Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Jason Rohde leaves the Western Cape High Court amid a flurry of photographers. (File, Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – Murder accused Jason Rohde claims that his wife’s family ostracised and prejudged him long before he became an accused in her murder, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

So bad was the situation that Rohde didn’t even stay for tea at her funeral, the court heard.

"My client was treated by your wife, by his father-in-law as if he was a murderer. He was ostracised, he was victimised and he was prejudged before his day in court," advocate Pete Mihalik put to Rohde’s brother-in-law, Peter Norton.

Norton, who was testifying in Rohde’s trial, said he thought “there was compassion mixed with suspicion”.

Rohde and his wife had been staying at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch at the time of her death, where they attended a conference.

Norton told the court of the shock the family experienced when they first heard that she had died.

There was "screaming and wailing" in their house when they heard the news, he said.

They drove to Spier that Sunday and, on arrival at the Rohdes’ suite, found Jason sitting in a chair, looking shocked.

"Jason was just very devastated," Norton said.

He cried and said that Susan would never see her grandchildren, Norton testified.

"I sat next to him. I held his hand. We didn't say anything for a long time."

Other relatives were in the room too.

Marital history

Rohde’s father-in-law, Neville Holmes, took Jason's hands and turned them over several times, as if he was examining them, before asking what had happened.

Soon a police officer arrived to take Rohde’s statement.

Norton said that his wife Angela, was “mad” when she found out that Rohde had been having an affair.

The court previously heard that Rohde had been having an affair with an estate agent, Jolene Alterskye, who was also at the conference at Spier. Susan found out about the affair in 2016 and insisted on attending the conference even though other partners did not attend.

READ: Court hears of WhatsApp chat between Susan Rohde and her husband's mistress

Mihalik delved into Norton's personal marital history, and that of Susan's father, asking why Angela would be so upset by infidelity if the family had already dealt with marital upsets before.

Norton said he and Angela had no idea that Rohde had been having an affair.

In Rohde’s statement, he said that he and his wife had an argument at about 2:30 on July 24, 2016 and went back to their room.

But, he decided to leave again and have a drink in a friend's room.

Barefoot and wearing a gown, Susan followed him. But she tripped and fell, cutting her foot and the area around her left eyebrow.

"I returned to the room and we both went to sleep," the statement read.

Door locked from inside

They woke up around 7:00 and, at the time, Susan was still angry with him, he said.

She went to the bathroom and he fell asleep again.

When he woke up, he couldn’t access the bathroom because it was locked from the inside.

ALSO READ: Susan Rohde's bruise was from a handstand fall - defence

A maintenance man helped him to open it and it was there that Susan’s body was found, hanging behind the door.

Rohde immediately started CPR but, when paramedics arrived, Susan was declared dead.

The initial thought was that she had hung herself.

However, the investigation was changed to murder and Rohde was arrested.

He has pleaded not guilty.

The case continues on Monday.

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

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