If words could kill: The Rohdes’ chilling WhatsApp warfare
The messages of love, hate and recrimination that ended abruptly the day Susan Rohde died
Contempt, love, paranoia, regret, profanity and money: they're all there in screeds of revealing WhatsApp messages that Jason and Susan Rohde exchanged in the months before he is alleged to have killed her.
About 3000 messages between the then 47-year-old parents of three teenage girls were handed in as evidence this week at Rohde's murder trial in the High Court in Cape Town.
They paint a picture of a woman overwhelmed by suspicion after her husband's affair with a colleague, and of a husband alternately appeasing and resenting his wife's constant need for reassurance.
The 79 pages of messages end abruptly at 7.43pm on Saturday July 23 2016, after a row between the couple in which Susan told Rohde: "F**k you." The last words Rohde texted to his wife were: "Get ur f**king call block off."
Early next morning, the property company boss asked hotel staff at the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch to help him open the bathroom door in the couple's room.
Susan was dead inside, and a month later Rohde was arrested. The state says he strangled her, but Rohde claims she committed suicide by hanging herself using the cord of a hair iron.
WATCH | State forensic pathologist says Susan's death was staged suicide
Rohde's trial began on October 9 with an inspection of Spier by Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.
This week, Susan's psychologist, Jane Newcombe, told the court that her analysis of the couple's WhatsApp messages suggested Susan slipped into a state similar to post-traumatic stress disorder when she discovered Rohde had been having an affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye, who was attending the same company conference at Spier as the Rohdes.
Alterskye features prominently in the couple's WhatsApp exchanges. Two weeks after learning of the affair, Susan said "I hope you and she rot in hell together", adding that he "probably started f**king her" on their eldest daughter's birthday.
On April 21, she told her husband, who was in Cape Town: "I'm sick of that witch controlling my life. You let that bitch into my life and I'm taking her out. You two assholes think you can control what I do, what I know, while you carry on like f**king twits whenever you want to."
By July 19, a few days before her death, Susan appeared to have accepted the affair was over. "Thanks for picking us over the whore," she said. "And thanks for cutting her out completely. I so appreciate you never speaking to her again. I knew that you could turn your life around and you've shown me that you can."..