Susan Rohde and her sister were ‘greatly upset’ over her husband’s infidelity
Murder accused Jason Rohde’s wife and sister-in-law were both greatly upset about his infidelity‚ the Cape Town High Court heard on Thursday.
Rohde‚ a multimillionaire and former director of Geffen International Realty Franchises‚ is on trial for allegedly staging his wife Susan's suicide by hanging during the company's annual conference at the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch.
Susan's brother-in-law‚ Peter Norton‚ took the stand. He is married to Susan's sister‚ Angela.
Norton testified how he consoled a "sad‚ confused‚ tearful‚ and broken‚" Rohde on the morning after Susan's body was found in July 2016.
Rohde's defence team has argued that Susan was depressed‚ suicidal‚ irrational and jealous after she discovered that Rohde had been having an affair with estate agent Jolene Alterskye.
Norton recalled how Rohde said: "She will never see her grandchildren."
"It was a horrible time. I held his hand and we sat in silence‚" he told the court.
Then Susan's father‚ Neville Holmes‚ walked in. According to Norton‚ Holmes told Rohde: "There was a fight‚ show me your hands‚ there is a lot of blood."
Norton said that Rohde told them‚ and the police‚ that he and Susan had had a fight at about 2.30am. Rohde allegedly said that he left to have a drink in a friend's room.
He read out Rohde's affidavit which alleged that the blood was from her having tripped‚ cutting her foot‚ and falling on her eye.
"There were no marks on his hands and face‚" said Norton.
During cross-examination defence advocate Pete Mihalik put it to Norton that his wife‚ Angela‚ was angry at Rohde because she suspected him of murdering Susan.
He said that Angela did not suspect him of murder but was upset about his infidelity.
Mihalik then put it to Norton that Susan told her psychologist‚ Jane Newcomb‚ that Angela did not want to marry him (Norton). And that on their big day she contemplated not going through with the wedding. She also told Newcomb‚ weeks before her death‚ that Angela was a "chubby'' liar with a drinking problem.
Before state advocate Louis van Niekerk could object‚ Mihalik fired at Norton: "Why did your wife leave you?"
"Because she didn't like me‚" said Norton with tears welling up in his eyes‚ contrasting a very focused and unemotional Rohde on the opposite side of the court room.
Mihalik pointed out that Rohde's infidelity and their father's infidelity greatly upset both sisters. He insinuated that it might have been a catalyst for Susan's suicide.
The case was postponed until Tuesday when the Newcomb is expected to testify.
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