I had a secret Spier rendezvous with my mistress‚ says Jason Rohde
Jason Rohde admitted on Wednesday that he had a secret meeting with his mistress at the conference where his wife‚ Susan‚ died.
Facing cross-examination from prosecutor Louis van Niekerk during his murder trial at the high court in Cape Town‚ the former property company boss said that at the same time he was sharing a room at the Spier wine estate with Susan‚ he was exchanging messages with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.
He admitted that he deliberately kept his distance from Alterskye during the Lew Geffen International Realty Franchises conference they were both attending in Stellenbosch‚ because he was worried how Susan would react.
But “on the Friday or the Saturday‚ Jolene and I met up briefly around the corner for 10 minutes‚ we said hello to each other”‚ Rohde told Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.
The father-of-three admitted that after rekindling his affair with Alterskye‚ his plan was to live a double life.
“I wanted to have it both ways‚ but leading up to Spier I had seriously started thinking about divorce as being the way forward‚” he said.
“I had mentioned it to Susan... but I had never taken concrete steps in the sense of going to see a divorce attorney or working out financially what the implications would be."
Jason Rohde testified in his murder trial in the Cape Town High Court. Rohde is accused of murdering his wife Susan in 2016 and then attempting to make it look like a suicide. Rohde says his wife took her own life after she learned of his affair with a work colleague.
He admitted that he raised the possibility of divorce in the couple’s daily rows. “But it was more out of an anger‚ it was to hurt her‚ to spite her. I knew that Susan wouldn’t want to hear the term and it would escalate the matter.”
Van Niekerk accused him of deliberately avoiding the ultimate confrontation that would end the marriage. “Susan was led to believe by you that you were working on the marriage. That was a complete lie‚” he said.
“You stated that you don’t like confrontation‚ you shy away. You try and avoid things‚ hoping that they are going to go away. That’s how you approach life in general.”
Rohde replied: “On emotional issues‚ yes. In business‚ I can confront things and sort them out.”
Van Niekerk: “You deceived her‚ you were lying all the time‚ you were covering up your tracks‚ you were ducking and diving. Confronted with an emotional issue like this‚ that’s your first and only way of coping.”
Rohde: “When you have an affair‚ the bottom line is you’ve got to be deceitful‚ otherwise it’s not an affair.”
Van Niekerk: “You wanted to continue that double life into that conference‚ and your uppermost thought was that you didn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your colleagues.”
Rohde: “That’s partially correct. But I knew that by Susan coming [to the conference] it would put her under more stress than she already was‚ and that’s why I didn’t want her to come. I’m not denying the fact that I had a selfish motive‚ but I also didn’t want to hurt Susan more‚ as silly as that sounds. I didn’t want to rub it in her face.”
Describing how he rekindled his relationship with Alterskye‚ even while he was seeing marriage counsellor Carol Nader with Susan‚ Rohde said he started communicating with her by phone.
“When I next went down to Cape Town‚ I saw her physically. I don’t know if I slept over with her‚ but I would have had a physical encounter with her I’m sure. I’m 99% sure I would have.”
Pressed by Van Niekerk on whether he had sex with Alterskye‚ he said: “I would have had intercourse with her‚ absolutely correct.”
But since Susan’s death‚ the affair had ended. “I haven’t resumed that relationship. I am not seeing her. She messaged me to ask how I was but other than that I’m not seeing her‚” said Rohde.
He confirmed that the elder of the couple’s twins — a girl he referred to as their “middle daughter” — had discovered a letter that her mother had sent to Alterskye.
“Our kids are always on our cellphones‚ and when I received the letter to Jolene‚ my middle daughter was always looking through the photographs and had come across that letter from Jolene‚” said Rohde.
“I was devastated that she would read that. We discussed it with Carol Nader‚ and because Susan and I were communicating with each other on WhatsApp a lot‚ we agreed that we would always delete communications between the two of us.
“Susan had a discussion with our middle daughter about that. I only learnt after the fact. The way Susan explained it was that she had told her that we were having some difficulties but we’re going to try and work it out. It must have upset her greatly.”
Before the court adjourned so that the door of the Rohde’s Spier bathroom could be erected‚ Van Niekerk questioned Rohde about the couple’s final row‚ on the eve of Susan’s death.
We weren’t talking to each other‚ we were verbally shouting at each other and using ugly words.
Rohde said Susan found him texting in the bathroom in the early hours of Sunday July 24‚ 2016. “There could only be one person I was messaging at that time of the morning‚” said Rohde.
“We moved out of the bathroom. Obviously now we were having a major verbal argument. We argued in the bedroom‚ I told Susan I wanted to leave the room. I put my green jersey on and we argued‚ we had a major‚ major row.
“It was a loud conversation. We weren’t talking to each other‚ we were verbally shouting at each other and using ugly words. It was back and forth‚ we were screaming at each other‚ both using vulgar language.
“I moved towards the door‚ Susan stood in front of the door‚ and there was a physical altercation where a series of events took place where I was trying to move her.
“It culminated in me taking my right hand and moving her away." Rohde indicated that his hand was on the side of Susan's neck‚ with his thumb at the front.
Rohde has denied murdering Susan and lying to cover his tracks. He says she committed suicide.
The case continues.