Wife-killer Jason Rohde's lawyer appeals 'illogical' guilty verdict

12 March 2019 - 17:51 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Jason Rohde was sentenced to 18 years in jail for murdering his wife Susan Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate.
Jason Rohde was sentenced to 18 years in jail for murdering his wife Susan Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Former real estate executive Jason Rohde, now serving a lengthy sentence for killing his wife Susan, has made another bid for freedom.

Rohde filed an application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence in the high court in Cape Town on Tuesday. The property mogul swapped his designer suits for prison garb last month.

Rohde was convicted of killing Susan, with whom he has three daughters, in a room they shared at Spier, near Stellenbosch, in July 2016. Rohde attended a work conference and Susan insisted on joining him after finding out about her husband's extramarital affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe sentenced him to 18 years in jail on February 27.

She also found  him guilty of obstructing justice by making Susan's death look like a suicide. Susan was found dead behind a locked bathroom door with a hair-iron cord around her neck .

In his application for leave to appeal, Rohde's counsel Graham van der Spuy said Salie-Hlophe should not have convicted him.

"The court should have found the accused not guilty and should have acquitted him in respect of both of the aforesaid counts," argued Van der Spuy.

"The convictions of the accused were against the evidence and the weight of the evidence. The court erred and misdirected itself in failing to make a finding that the accused's evidence was probably true; alternatively, at the very least, that his version of events was reasonably possibly true - namely that the deceased died by committing suicide by hanging herself and that she was not murdered by him."

Van der Spuy said Salie-Hlophe failed to properly analyse and evaluate the evidence and "instead did so in a manner that was subjective, selective and failed to take into account (either properly or at all) the whole of the evidence that was legitimately placed before the court".

He added that Salie-Hlophe had conducted herself during the trial in a manner that had "the effect of constituting an infringement" on Rohde’s rights.

"A consistent pattern of judicially inappropriate, illogical and selective reasoning processes, ignoring and/or disregarding crucial evidence (or failing to take such vital evidence into account), as well as drawing unsustainable factual and legal conclusions was demonstrated by the court, in its conduct during the trial and in its judgment," said Van der Spuy.

"The court displayed an equally consistent pattern of unjustifiable criticism of, and unmerited attacks against, every one of the expert witnesses called by the defence - notwithstanding the quality and acceptable content of their testimonies and opinions and despite their objectivity, experience and proven expertise, as well as the sound, logical and scientifically supported reasoning that underpinned their testimony and opinions.

"By contrast, exactly the opposite approach was adopted by the court to the medical experts of the prosecution.”

The application is yet to be heard.