Jason Rohde's counsel lashes judge as wife killer's appeal turned down

16 April 2019 - 12:04 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Jason Rohde when he appeared in the high court in Cape Town in 2018.
Jason Rohde when he appeared in the high court in Cape Town in 2018.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

Former real estate executive Jason Rohde, jailed for killing his wife, is now pinning his hopes on the Supreme Court of Appeal after the high court dismissed an application for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence on Tuesday.

Rohde was sentenced to an 18-year jail term by the high court in Cape Town for murdering his wife Susan.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe also found him guilty of obstructing the administration of justice by making Susan's death look like suicide.

Salie-Hlophe thwarted Rohde's bid for freedom on Tuesday. His lawyer Daniel Witz confirmed that an application for leave to appeal, launched in March, had been dismissed.

"The application was dismissed," said Witz. "It was set down for an hour hearing and it was dismissed. She [Salie-Hlophe] just said that in her view we were just rehashing argument that was already heard in trial. She believes we have no reasonable prospects of success on appeal. We obviously disagree. Our instructions now are that we should petition the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)."

He said Rohde was hopeful about the outcome of his next appeal.

"He has been transferred to another prison. He still holding up and strong and hopes his case will be heard by the SCA."

Rohde killed his wife, with whom he has three daughters, in a room they shared at Spier estate, near Stellenbosch, in July 2016. He was there attending a work conference and Susan had insisted on joining him after she discovered his extramarital affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

In the leave to appeal application, 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," said Van der Spuy. "The convictions of the accused were against the evidence and the weight of 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 it".

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