Valentine's Day card gave away Rohde's illicit affair

2017-11-07 14:04
Jason Rohde in court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Jason Rohde in court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town – A Valentine's Day card hidden in murder-accused Jason Rohde's suitcase turned his wife Susan's life upside down, her psychologist testified at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

"I found that my husband Jason was having an affair with Jolene, 35, in Cape Town," Susan wrote in a personal history form her psychologist Jane Newcombe asked her to fill in.

She said the card from Jolene Alterskye was discovered in a suitcase and it had affected her badly, especially since it had started in June 2015.

FOLLOW - LIVE: No indication that Susan #Rohde was suicidal - psychologist

"I am currently battling to cope with that," said Susan Rohde.

She said Susan was questioning everything about herself and her relationship with Jason.

"I am lacking self-esteem and think I could be suffering from depression," she said in her written history.

Newcombe said Susan had booked an appointment after she gave a talk to volunteer counsellors with Sandton police on suicide and depression.

She first saw Susan at her private practice on May 25, 2016.

The first session was usually for the psychologist and client to see if they are a good fit, she said.

Struggling to cope with affair

Susan was given the personal history document to fill in and brought it with her to her second session, out of eight in total.

Susan had answered all the questions, bar one, in her neat handwriting.

That question was about her sister that she was conflicted about, according to Newcombe. She said it is not uncommon not to be able to describe a difficult relationship on paper.

Newcombe is a specialist in psycho-dynamic therapy, which examines the client's past relationship patterns – romantic and familial – and the way this affects how the client acts in later life.

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

"My job is to look for those patterns of relationships and point them out," she said.

In later sessions, Susan wanted to talk about Jason's affair because she felt he was being irritated by her "constantly harping on about the affair".

Newcombe said that during one of her sessions, Susan said she was struggling to cope with managing the discovery of the affair.

She had also contacted Alterskye and they had spoken on the phone in a "respectful" way.

Susan was not angry with Alterskye, said Newcombe.

Did not want affair to cause a divorce

She said she did not blame the woman because it was Jason who had made a promise to her, not Alterskye.

"She did say please leave him alone," Newcombe said.

She asked him to block Alterskye on his phone, and to stop contact with her, because she perceived that Alterskye was very invested in the relationship and that Jason almost needed to be "protected from her".

She wanted to know how to manage her anger and turmoil, because her life had been turned upside down.

"She started to doubt her own ability to recognise truth from non-truth."

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

Newcombe said this was not unusual for somebody who had found out their spouse was having an affair.

"They ask themselves, 'Where was I when this was going on?'"

The court also heard that Susan told her therapist that she did not want the affair to cause a divorce.

Susan was found dead at Spier wine farm while she and her husband were attending a Sotheby's International Conference.

At first it was thought she had hanged herself in the bathroom, but then her husband was charged with her murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

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

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