Be lenient to my 'good, kind, loyal' son - Jason Rohde's mother asks court

Jason Rhode appears in court. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)
Jason Rhode appears in court. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

After waxing lyrical about Jason Rohde's positive qualities, his mother Brenda asked the Western Cape High Court on Monday to be lenient when sentencing him for his wife's murder.

Brenda Rohde, who was called as a witness in mitigation of sentence, said her son could appear "aloof and standoffish" to a stranger, but had a "heart of gold".

AS IT HAPPENED: Jason Rohde has been a good son to us - mom Brenda tells court

She said he had been a very good son to her and her husband, who adopted Jason as his own when he was still young.

"I can't emphasise enough Jason's gentle, caring personality. Not only with his family, but with his friends and with his business employees. He was always there for them... He has always been accommodating and understanding."

Only one mention was made of the late Susan Rohde when Brenda explained that they had mixed feelings about her and Jason marrying so young.

However, they had been "very happy with his choice of girl. A lovely girl".

Brenda said a lot of mothers would say the same, but insisted that her son was a "good, kind and loyal person".

His style was to go quiet and walk away when angry, but he never ended up sulking or being moody.

Defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy asked if she had seen any violence or misogyny from him.

'I have never had any complaints'

"I have thought back and there is honestly nothing that I can repeat that has even come closer to being physical at all... I have seen no physical act of aggression from Jason at all," she said.

"I have never had any complaints. If it has happened, I am totally unaware of it and I don't think it has, as he doesn't like aggression as such. He hates the display of violence. He is a gentle person."

She became emotional toward the end of her testimony as she spoke about how much her son was loved by everyone in the family.

"I love him very much, so does his father, his sister, aunts, cousins... and they're with him every step of the way. I ask the court to be lenient, if for no other reason, than for his children, and that is not a threat whatsoever to anybody."

She said they would all suffer without him - his three daughters without a dad or financial support and she and her elderly husband without Jason as a critical part of their real estate agency business.

Rohde, who sported a new haircut in the dock, listened carefully and appeared moved. He spent Christmas and his birthday in custody at Pollsmoor Prison.

'With all the catastrophic stuff happening...'

Earlier on Monday, Rohde's two friends - Craig Livingstone and Craig Fleischer also testified about his good character.

Livingstone said he had met Rohde at their daughters' school in 2015. He considered him to be a kind, caring and supportive friend who was there for his family and those in need.

He asked the court to be fair in sentencing him, show empathy for all he contributed to society, and consider the effect the sentence would have on his daughters.

Fleischer, who had known Rohde for over 20 years, said he had never heard him speak badly of others or raise his voice.

"I just hope and pray that, with all catastrophic stuff happening in South Africa at the moment, with Eskom and state capture... that the right decision and right sentencing be issued to our friend Jason. I know eventually the right thing will happen."

Arguments to close this week

In November, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe found Rohde guilty of murdering his wife at the Spier Hotel in July 2016 and of obstructing justice by trying to make her death look self-inflicted.

The property mogul had "staged her death as a play" and roped in various "actors" and "extras" to tell a story that she had committed suicide, she said during her judgment.

During cross-examination, Brenda told prosecutor Louis van Niekerk that she had not read the judgment. Although not sure, she also doubted whether Rohde's twin daughters would have read it.

Referring to a policy that had just paid our R735 000, Van Niekerk put it to her that his daughters would be well cared for.

She seemed doubtful and understood the family was looking for other ways to financially support them.

Rohde will remain in custody until closing arguments on Wednesday.

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