You're a liar‚ prosecutor tells Jason Rohde
Murder accused Jason Rohde used a doll head brought in by the state to demonstrate how he move his wife Susan out of his way on the night before her death. Susan was allegedly preventing Rohde from leaving his Spier hotel room when he decided to grab her by the neck and move her out the way.
Jason Rohde is lying about the position of his wife’s body in the bathroom of their hotel room at Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch‚ the prosecutor in his murder trial said on Thursday.
Cross-examining the former property boss at the high court in Cape Town‚ Louis van Niekerk told Rohde that based on the findings of two post-mortem examinations‚ “your version simply can’t be true”.
Van Niekerk also said Rohde’s version of events was incompatible with the evidence of Spier maintenance worker Desmond Daniels‚ who opened the bathroom door and removed the cord of a hair iron from Susan Rohde’s neck.
Rohde has denied murdering his wife after an argument about his affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye‚ and defeating the ends of justice by attempting to make her death appear to be a suicide.
Thursday morning’s questioning revolved around the tightness of the cord around Susan’s neck‚ whether it was looped in one strand or two‚ whether it was knotted and how easily Daniels was able to remove it.
Rohde repeatedly insisted he does not recall whether there was a double cord or a single cord around Susan’s neck. He told Van Niekerk: “I couldn’t be sure. I wasn’t paying attention to it.
“To my recollection the cord was tight‚ because Susan was suspended off the noose of it‚ so there wouldn’t be slack.”
Van Niekerk: “Somewhere there must have been a knot... to cause the suspension and tension effect of the cord.”
Rohde: “I would agree with that‚ yes.”
The father of three girls said Daniels’ evidence of a “completely loose noose around the neck” varied with his perception when he found Susan’s body on Sunday July 24‚ 2016.
“I’ve maintained from the outset‚ I never saw the noose around the neck. My perception was that it was tight. He [Daniels] didn’t simply take it off in one second‚ as if it was a loose cord around her neck.”
Referring to the reports of the two autopsies — one by state pathologist Akmal Coetzee-Khan and the other by defence pathologist Reggie Perumal — Van Niekerk said neither made mention of a knot imprint.
Rohde said: “I understand‚ but I’ve never described a knot.”
Van Niekerk: “There must have been a knot to cause that tightness after you took off the slack [by lifting the body]."
Rohde: “It’s your theory‚ I don’t agree with it. I’m telling you what I saw‚ I’m telling you what happened.”
Van Niekerk: “The state will argue that all of this as you’ve described during your evidence in chief is a lie. You’re making it up." Rohde did not respond or react.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe asked Van Niekerk to be more specific‚ and he told Rohde: “What really happened there is based on the single strand [of cord] that Mr Daniels saw and the evidence of Dr Kahn‚ as depicted on the photos that he took of the ligature mark. It’s not compatible at all with what you’ve described here‚ of the cord around the neck very tight.
“Based on that‚ your version simply can’t be true.”
Rohde replied: “I’m not going to comment on your statement because there’s simply no truth in it.”
The case continues.
Jason Rohde’s testimony in the Western Cape High Court has laid down his version of events of his wife’s Susan’s death. Here are some of the important parts of his testimony.