Susan Rohde 'went ballistic' at Spier when she caught husband texting girlfriend

2017-11-21 16:09
Jason and Susan Rohde. (Facebook)

Jason and Susan Rohde. (Facebook)

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Cape Town – Susan Rohde "went ballistic" when she caught her husband, Jason Rohde, trying to delete a message he was sending his girlfriend Jolene Alterskye from their bathroom at Spier wine estate in the hours before her death, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

"She started swearing. She started calling Jolene a whole number of deplorable swear words," said Jason's defence lawyer, Advocate Graham van der Spuy.

In her final hours, she had been drinking wine from the bottle in their suite ahead of the formal Sotheby's conference dinner dance, said Van der Spuy.

He was retelling Jason's version of events leading to the discovery of Susan's body in their bathroom on July 24, 2016, during the cross-examination of State pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan.

The State alleges that Jason killed Susan that night and staged the murder to appear as a suicide. Jason has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and defeating or obstructing the ends of justice.

Read: Jason Rohde pleads not guilty to killing wife, staging suicide

Van der Spuy said Jason had apparently spent the evening avoiding both Alterskye and Susan.

Claims of provocative dancing

He sipped on whiskeys he got from the open bar and went outside to smoke. He also had to make a speech.

Once the formalities were over there was dancing and socialising. According to Jason, said Van der Spuy, Susan was dancing provocatively with other men.

The couple later joined a group of people, including Alterskye, sitting around a fire for drinks, and when the last round was called at 02:30, Susan apparently ordered two double Amarettos.

On their way back to their suite, Jason was invited to someone's room for an after-party, and Susan would not let him go.

Back at their suite, she took all her clothes off and put on a gown.

Jason was still in his formal clothes and had gone to the bathroom to send a message to Alterskye when Susan walked in.

He had tried to delete it but Susan was apparently so angered by it that he tried to leave.

Strong language

Van der Spuy said Susan pulled at Jason's collar to prevent him from leaving and blocked the door to the room.

"He repeatedly on many occasions attempted to move her physically to leave. Every time he tried to leave she grabbed his arms and collar and restrained him," submitted Van der Spuy.

"He then grabbed her wrists and her lower arm several times and unsuccessfully tried to force her out of his way and tried to push past her so he could leave."

Van der Spuy claimed that Susan kept pushing and pulling at Jason, swore and screamed at him, and used "very strong language".

"It went on for quite some time," said Van der Spuy.

According to Van der Spuy, Jason grabbed Susan by her bathrobe and jerked her by her collar to move her, but this was not effective.

"She was a strong person," said Van der Spuy.

New detail

He said Jason also grabbed his wife by the neck with his right hand to force her away.

"He literally pulled and pushed her out of the way. He swung his arms back at her and he can clearly recall connecting with his right arm in her face," continued Van der Spuy.

Jason's plea explanation had not included the detail of grabbing Susan by the neck.

The defence lawyer said Jason then left the room.

"And he started walking up the road where he heard the sounds of blaring music."

A barefoot Susan followed, screaming and swearing at Jason, grabbing at his clothes and pulling at his collar.

He swung his body from side to side to get away and grabbed hold of her and pushed her away physically a few times when she attempted to block him.

Injury after fall

He arrived at the room shared by Alterskye and her friend, with Susan following him.

There were people there, but not Alterskye.

"His wife was standing almost right behind him, creating a scene outside the hotel door," said Van der Spuy.

They then went to another colleague's room because he thought Alterskye might be there.

As he went to that room, Susan continued trying to grab at Jason, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe was told.

At one stage she tripped and fell over on her right side on the edge of the pavement and landed in the garden.

Later when they were back in their room, Susan apparently screamed at Jason: "I've cut my f**king toe!"

Another heated verbal exchange took place with no further physical contact between them.

Jason went to sleep because he had to present the closing address at the conference. 

"He told her he's had enough, and it's over," said Van der Spuy.

Pathologist's findings questioned

She woke him up the next morning and allegedly said: "Your whore has sent me a message".

Jason responded that he was "through with this" and "wanted out of the marriage". 

She got up and went to the bathroom and he went back to sleep.

He does not know how long he slept, but he woke up again to brush his teeth and get ready for his closing address.

He could not get into the bathroom and thought Susan was being spiteful.

"He called out to her when the door was locked. He called her mobile telephone, but [she] didn't answer. 

"He started getting worried and called hotel reception."

Later her body was found when the hotel's maintenance personnel opened the bathroom door for him.

Coetzee-Khan found that Susan died by manual strangulation, and not suicide as had initially been thought. The defence is questioning many of his findings on her physical injuries.

The trial continues on Wednesday, November 22.

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

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