My tears fell on Susan Rohde's naked breasts‚ says ex-priest

10 October 2017 - 14:26 By Aron Hyman
Jason Rohde, who is accused of murdering his wife Susan in 2016, appears in court on 10 October 2017.
Jason Rohde, who is accused of murdering his wife Susan in 2016, appears in court on 10 October 2017.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

“I was crying and my tears were splashing on her naked breasts.” 

This was part of the testimony on Tuesday of Mark Thompson‚ the state’s first witness in its prosecution of murder accused millionaire Jason Rohde.

Thompson testified in the High Court in Cape Town about how he tried to resuscitate the naked corpse of Rohde’s wife‚ Susan‚ in a bathroom at Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch.

The former Anglican priest‚ who said he had worked with Rohde for seven years‚ said he was disturbed by Susan’s nakedness and a large bruise on her upper thigh near her pubic area.

He described his desperate attempts to resuscitate Susan that lasted for nearly 40 minutes while Rohde sat next to him‚ pleading in a “mantra-like” fashion: “Mark‚ help me.”

Thompson was a manager in the Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s Johannesburg office after Rohde‚ the CEO‚ offered him a position. He also attended the Lew Geffen/Sotheby's International Realty annual conference at Spier where police allege Rohde murdered Susan and staged her suicide.

He said a colleague told him at about 8.30am on Sunday July 24‚ 2016‚ that there had been an incident in one of the hotel rooms and that someone was believed to have committed suicide.

When he got to the room‚ he saw Rohde sitting on the bathroom floor next to Susan’s body. He described she was lying with her head facing away from the door where a “hair tool’s” electrical cable was hanging over a towel hook mounted on the back of the of the door.

He noticed a knot in the cable which would have been too small for her head to fit through‚ he said. There was also “a small stool” lying next to her hip and a pool of urine.

“I had read many times that when a person dies they release their bowels and urinate‚” he said. “If she hanged herself on the back of the door I would have thought her stool and urine would be at the door.”

After questioning by state advocate Louis van Niekerk‚ Thompson was grilled by defence advocate Pete Mihalik about why he clearly remembered certain details while others‚ like jewellery and Susan’s arms having been tucked into a night gown‚ seemed to escape his recollection.

He explained that although he would have seen these things‚ 15 months had passed and he more acutely recalled details which had traumatised him or which he found peculiar.

He also said that he found Rohde's verbal behaviour strange. “In terms of Mr Rohde's reaction‚ he never said‚ ‘Susan why did you do this‚ Susan I love you‚ what about our girls’‚” said Thompson.

He did recall‚ however‚ that Rohde attempted once to blow into her mouth after Thompson had given up trying to resuscitate her when blood started coming from her nose.

The trial continues.

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