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Rohde behind bars after failing to pitch for murder trial

FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court before day four begins.
FILE PHOTO: Murder accused Jason Rohde speaks with his defense team in court before day four begins.

Jason Rohde‚ who is on trial at the High Court in Cape Town for the murder of his wife Susan‚ was rearrested on Tuesday.

Rohde’s lawyer‚ Daniel Witz, said: “Our client has been arrested and is being held at the Stellenbosch police station.”

Earlier‚ Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe issued a warrant of arrest for the former property executive to attend an inquiry on Wednesday into his breach of bail conditions.

Rohde failed to appear in court on Monday‚ when his trial was supposed to resume for the first time since November.

His four advocates‚ led by Pete Mihalik‚ asked for a seven-day postponement to allow the businessman to recuperate from an undisclosed illness.

But Salie-Hlophe said the information presented to her was insufficient. Three medical reports presented to her did not include a medical certificate explaining why Rohde was not fit to attend his trial‚ she said.

Salie-Hlophe adjourned proceedings for about two hours on Monday and asked that the investigating officer‚ Sergeant Steven Adams‚ “facilitate” Rohde's appearance. But his psychiatrist‚ at an unnamed Cape Town hospital‚ refused to release him without a court order.

The court ordered that an inquiry into Rohde’s breach of his bail conditions be held on Tuesday and that the psychiatrist‚ Kevin Stoloff‚ testify about his condition. But on Tuesday Mihalik objected to the inquiry being held in Rohde’s absence.

Prosecutor Louis van Neikerk argued that Rohde was legally represented and the proceedings were recorded.

Salie-Hlophe issued a warrant compelling Rohde to attend the inquiry on Wednesday.

Rohde is charged with murdering his wife‚ Susan‚ and obstructing the administration of justice by making her death look like a suicide. They have three daughters.

The former Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s International Realty chief executive was sharing a room with his wife at Spier wine estate‚ near Stellenbosch‚ in July 2016 when she was found dead with the cord of a hair iron around her neck behind the locked door.

The indictment against Rohde accuses him of placing the cord around Susan’s neck “in a double strand around the clothing/towel hook at the back of the bathroom door”. He then supplied false information to police‚ it says.

“The postmortem examination conducted on the body of the deceased shows the cause of death as consistent with asphyxia following manual strangulation and external airway obstruction‚” says the indictment.

“The features of the ligature imprint abrasion mark are consistent with postmortem application to the neck.”

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