I was concerned about suicide - Rohde's counsellor tells court

Murder trial: Rohde was 'angry' because Susan insisted on joining him at Spier estate, where she died

14 November 2017 - 07:58 By FARREN COLLINS
Jason Rohde. File photo.
Jason Rohde. File photo.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

A "frustrated" and "angry" Jason Rohde stormed out of their final marriage counselling session with his wife Susan before she was found dead four days later.

Rohde was allegedly upset because she insisted on joining him for a company conference at the Spier Wine Estate in July 2016, where she was found dead in her hotel room.

This testimony came from the couple's marriage counsellor, Carol Nader, in the Cape Town High Court on Monday. She was called to the stand by state advocate Louis van Niekerk.

Rohde is accused of murdering his wife and trying to make her death look like a suicide. The state has argued that Susan was not suicidal, while the defence argued to the contrary.

Nader saw the couple for 13 sessions of 70 minutes each from February 29 to July 20 2016. When Nader asked Susan if she had thoughts of suicide, she replied: "No, I would never do that to my children."

Nader, who is qualified to make primary assessments on suicide but not a clinical diagnosis, said she used a suicide checklist to assess if Susan showed signs of a depressive disorder. "I highlighted childhood trauma, low tolerance for mental and emotional pain, feelings of hopelessness, isolation, outbursts of rage and erratic behaviour," she said.

Towards the end of their sessions Nader noted an improvement in Susan, who had also started seeing a psychologist. But Nader noted with concern her suicidal behaviour.

"I was still concerned about suicide," she said. "I was not convinced she was not suicidal but I did not bring it up because she felt insulted by the [insinuation]."