Rohde faces arrest after he failed to appear in court

05 February 2018 - 12:05
By Philani Nombembe
FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court.
Image: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court.

Murder accused businessman Jason Rohde could be arrested and brought to court in the next two hours after he failed to attend his trial on Monday morning.

His counsel Pete Mihalik told the court that Rohde had been admitted to hospital and asked for a seven-day postponement. He handed in two medical reports‚ which he asked the court to keep confidential. But Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe would have none of it. She said there was no medical certificate and evidence that he is unfit to attend court.

"I will leave it in your hands whether you want him to be arrested from hospital and brought to court‚" Mihalik told the judge.

"Mr Mihalik‚ you are making it difficult for me. You come to court with so little [facts]‚" said Salie-Hlophe.

The state is also opposed to the postponement. Salie-Hophle stood the matter down until 12:30pm for Rohde's lawyers to ensure his attendance or face arrest.

The multimillionaire is accused of murdering his wife Susan Rohde at the Spier Wine Estate. Rohde's trial was supposed to resume in the High Court in Cape Town on Monday almost two months after WhatsApp messages handed in as evidence exposed his two-timing lifestyle.

Rohde's bail conditions were amended to allow him to spend time in Plettenberg Bay‚ where he has a home. He also faces charges of obstructing the administration of justice by allegedly making her death look like a suicide. The couple have three daughters.

Daniel Witz‚ one of the lawyers engaged by the former estate agency head‚ said on Friday that Rohde’s legal team — consisting of four advocates and an attorney — was confident of its case.

"Yes‚ definitely‚" said Witz. "Our client still [maintains his innocence] and intends to go through to the end of the trial. He is OK. He is holding up as much as he can."

Witz said the state has about 78 witnesses. Several — including two pathologists who conducted the postmortem‚ a pastor and Rohde’s brother-in-law — have already testified.

"The state is expecting to call another four or five witnesses at the commencement of the trial. Whether they will call more‚ they will let us know‚" said Witz.

"We have to wait for the state to finish their witnesses to see who it is necessary to call."