'All of this is a lie': State, Rohde go head-to-head over how Susan's body was found

04 June 2018 - 13:24 By Aron Hyman
Jason Rohde is accused of murdering his wife Susan Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate. File photo.
Jason Rohde is accused of murdering his wife Susan Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate. File photo.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

"All of this is a lie!" State prosecutor advocate Louis van Niekerk attempted to find cracks in murder-accused Jason Rohde's testimony in the Cape Town High Court on Monday.

The former Lew Geffen Sotheby's International CEO stuck to his version of the events which unfolded in July 2016 at the Spier wine estate near Stellenbosch‚ where he claims his wife Susan committed suicide.

The couple were sharing a hotel room while attending the real estate company's annual conference. The state claims that after a protracted physical altercation which took place in the early hours of July 24‚ Rohde strangled her to death and tried to cover up his crime by faking her suicide.

Van Niekerk questioned Rohde extensively about the technical details of how he found Susan's body after he asked Spier handiman Desmond Daniels to open the bathroom door behind which he claims Susan hanged herself.

In court he showed pictures on a slide show of different ways in which Susan could have hanged herself‚ how the cord was placed around her neck‚ and how tight it was.

Many of the accounts between Daniels' version of events differed with Rohde's version. Daniels said that Susan was naked‚ whilst Rohde maintains that she was covered in a robe.

Daniels also stated that he saw Susan lying on the floor after he opened the door with a screwdriver and that the door opened easily until it was stopped by Susan's body‚ since her head was facing the door. But Rohde maintained that she was hanging behind the door and that he opened the door which was immediately jammed by her body.

Daniels said that the cord was easy to remove from around her neck and that it was loose‚ but Rohde said that the knot was tightly around her neck.

At one point Rohde preempted a question‚ which prompted Van Niekerk to stop and accuse him of having rehearsed his version of events instead of telling the truth. "I'm telling you that you're thinking ahead because this is a lie‚" he said.

When Rohde insisted he was telling the truth‚ Van Niekerk reminded him of his infidelity and of how he had lied to Susan about having an affair.

"Huh‚ you're telling the truth... Like you did all that time with Susan when you were having an affair‚" he said. "You lie because when you're in a tight spot‚ you don't like confrontation‚" he said.

Rohde replied that "being an adulterer doesn't mean you're a murderer".

The case continues.

State advocate Louis van Niekerk and Jason Rohde went at it in the Cape Town High Court on Monday during the cross-examination of the murder accused.