Rohde's pleas to see wife's diary 'ignored by state'

14 August 2018 - 13:39 By Philani Nombembe
Jason Rohde believes his wife’s diary could bolster his case.
Jason Rohde believes his wife’s diary could bolster his case.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Murder accused property mogul Jason Rohde believes his wife’s personal diary could absolve him.

Rohde‚ who is accused of killing his wife‚ Susan‚ concluded his defence in the High Court in Cape Town on Monday. His lawyer‚ Daniel Witz‚ deposed an affidavit in which he detailed his attempts to obtain Susan’s belongings from the state to bolster Rohde’s case.

“I record that various requests have been made by me for the personal items of the deceased to be made available to the defence‚ including her clothing‚ handbag [together with its contents]‚ her purse‚ her personal diary and her cosmetic bag‚” Witz’s affidavit reads.

“As I am informed‚ similar requests have also repeatedly been made by counsel for the accused. To date‚ none of these items has been made available to the defence.”

Witz also expressed his frustration with the state’s failure to provide him with state pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan’s handwritten autopsy notes. Khan performed the first autopsy on Susan after her death in July 2016.

Witz said the defence required the information because Khan told Rohde’s expert witness‚ pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal‚ over the phone on August 8‚ 2016‚ that he had “observed a fracture on the deceased’s hyoid bone during the first autopsy”.

Based on the information‚ Perumal suggested that “special radiology investigations” be carried out. Rohde insists that Susan hanged herself but the state says she was dead by the time she was hanged.

“As such‚ in order to obtain absolute certainty‚ Dr Perumal considered it necessary that the aforesaid special investigation be carried out in respect of the deceased’s hyoid bone‚” Witz said in the affidavit.

“Further to the above‚ since the date of my instruction in the matter‚ I have addressed repeated requests to the state/prosecution for access to and sight of the original handwritten incident scene notes as well as the original handwritten autopsy notes that were allegedly made by Dr Khan.

“To date‚ none of the aforesaid original handwritten notes of Dr Khan have been made available to the defence.”

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe postponed the matter to November 6 for closing arguments. Rohde’s bail conditions were slightly relaxed‚ and he now has to report to the police three days a week instead of four. His R100‚000 bail was extended‚ and he must remain in Cape Town during the adjournment of his trial.

“The accused may not apply for any travel documents... for any travel outside the borders of South Africa‚” the court order reads.

Rohde and his wife had been married for more than 20 years at the time of her death. They have three daughters. Rohde is the former CEO of Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s International Realty.

The state is convinced he killed his wife at a company conference at Spier‚ near Stellenbosch. She was found dead with the cord of a hair iron around her neck behind a locked bathroom door.

Post-mortem examinations have taken centre stage in the trial. Based on its post-mortem report‚ the state alleged Rohde had beaten Susan and dealt debilitating blows to her chest‚ causing several rib fractures‚ before smothering her with a pillow and faking her suicide by hanging.

Susan had insisted on attending the event as she was suspicious of Rohde after finding out five months earlier that he was having an affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

Jason Rohde’s testimony in the Western Cape High Court has laid down his version of events of his wife Susan’s death. Here are some of the important parts of his testimony.


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