It’s been five years since their beloved Sue was taken from them and the hurt is still unbearable, her loved ones say.
Susan Rohde’s parents, Dianne and Neville Holmes, her brother, Mark Holmes, and her sister, Angela Norton, issued separate statements recently which give insight into the trauma and grief they endured since her death in July 2016.
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Susan was found dead with the cord of her hair straightener wound around her neck in the bathroom of the room she and her husband Jason, an estate agent boss, were staying in at Spier Wine Farm near Stellenbosch. He was convicted of her murder but appealed the verdict and sentence and was out on bail pending the outcome of the appeal.
The Rohde family’s statements were issued in response
to the Supreme Court of Appeal last week dismissing Jason Rohde’s appeal to
have the verdict overturned. The court did, however, reduce his prison sentence
from 20 to 15 years. He is now seeking to take his case to the Constitutional
Court as he believes he had an unfair trial and remains out of jail.
To Susan’s family, last Tuesday’s appeal court judgment is another hurdle they’ve had to overcome.
“Susan’s death has impacted every aspect of our lives and we have come to understand the meaning of devastation,” her parents Dianne and Neville say. “We have endured these five years with as much courage and dignity as we could muster, but it has been unbearably hard at times.
“We have felt the need to be so restrained so as to spare our granddaughters any added emotional pain, hurt and embarrassment. But in so doing, we have added to our own pain because we feel we have not spoken up for Susan in the way we wanted to and believe she deserves.”
Jason and Susan’s daughters, Kathryn (23) and 21-year-old twins Josie and Alex, “find themselves in such a difficult and conflicted situation”, the grandparents say.
“But we have so much respect for them and
the way they have borne with fortitude what has been thrust upon them. The
support and understanding they continue to enjoy from school and varsity
friends, as well as from their friends’ parents, has been unstinting and has
sustained them through this ordeal.”
No one can grasp the family’s pain, Susan’s brother Mark said.
“The hurt, the anguish and the distress our family has felt is indescribable and could only properly be understood by those unfortunate enough to have walked in our shoes.
“We were not only faced with the devastating loss of my sister Susan but also with the deeply disturbing events that unfolded after her death,” he continues.
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During the trial’, intimate details of the couple’s marriage and the fallout after Jason began an affair with fellow estate agent Jolene Alterskye came to light.
“The trial and appeals have consumed us for what has seemed like an eternity and I was so hurt at times, angered by what was raised in court,” Mark said. “For much of the time, it felt as though Susan herself was on trial and I am deeply grateful to Judge Salie-Hlophe and the appeal court judges for including in their judgments the respectful recognition of the courageous, resilient and determined person Susan was.”
Angela said her sister’s death was unbearable to comprehend. “But somehow we have found the strength and fortitude to help us through this tragedy.
“My heart aches but it aches especially for my nieces. They have lost so much more than anyone could imagine.”
There are no winners in this, Angela added.
“But our family will rebuild and I will do everything in my power to ensure we
all lead happy and productive lives. I know this is what my sister would want
for us all.”
Mark had similar sentiments. “We remain a family united. We are getting stronger and we will go forward doing what we can to make my nieces’ and our lives full of love, full of meaning and purpose. We will not allow our lives to be defined by the actions of another. This is what Susan would have wanted for her daughters and expected of us.”
Diane and Neville say they miss their daughter every day. “We are craving time to grieve without restraint and to start the healing process that we have so far felt too numb to begin.
“We hold Sue close to our hearts and will always celebrate the life of our darling daughter with love, with respect and with pride.”
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