Rohde defence grills maintenance worker

Murder accused Jason Rohde.(File, Gallo Images)
Murder accused Jason Rohde.(File, Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Advocate Graham Van der Spuy challenged maintenance worker Desmond Daniels during cross-examination on Wednesday at the Western Cape High Court in the trial of Jason Rohde who is accused of murdering his wife, Susan Rohde.

Jason and Susan were attending a conference at Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch at the time of her death, which was initially thought to be a suicide on July 24, 2016.

Daniels had previously testified that he was the first person to see Susan's body in the hotel bathroom at the estate. He was requested by hotel staff to open the locked bathroom door on that particular day. Susan was found hanging from a hook on the bathroom door. Murder accused Jason also faces charges of defeating the ends of justice for allegedly staging her suicide.

READ: How Susan Rohde’s body was found: 'I saw a leg near the basin' - court hears

Van der Spuy grilled Daniels about why he opened a bathroom door that was locked from the inside.

"If a door is locked from the inside it stands to reason that someone was inside. Why did you open the door? That is for the guests to do. It is private territory," said Van der Spuy.

Daniels said that he was merely doing what Jason, a guest at the hotel, had asked him to do.

Daniels' memory questioned

"That is nonsense. If a guest tells you to do something stupid, you don't do it," argued Van der Spuy.

Van der Spuy was also concerned that Daniels constantly glanced at the prosecutor and the investigating officer before answering a question.

"Why do you keep looking at my learned colleague and the investigating officer? Are they giving you signals? I would prefer it if you looked at me or the court when you answer questions," said Van der Spuy.

READ: Ligature marks on Susan Rohde's neck not consistent with position she was found in, court hears

Van der Spuy also questioned Daniels' memory. The 62-year-old maintenance worker had recorded the request to open the bathroom door in a notebook. 

The advocate observed that Daniels had simply written "Toilet door. Nicholas. 24/07/16 08:15" with no mention of the actual incident.

The trial continues.

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