Rohde detective 'quaffed Blue Label' while interviewing witness

Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck.
Jason Rohde and wife Susan, who was found with an electric cord around her neck.

The detective investigating Susan Rohde’s death drank Johnny Walker Blue Label whisky at 11am while taking a witness’s statement‚ the High Court in Cape Town was told on Wednesday.

Brendan Miller‚ who heads the Atlantic Seaboard business of Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s International Realty‚ said Sergeant Marlon Appolis asked for a glass of the R2 300-a-bottle tipple when he arrived at his Fresnaye home.

Miller told Graham van der Spuy‚ the defence advocate for murder accused Jason Rohde‚ that Appolis’s colleagues and other company staff drank tea and coffee.

The estate agent was testifying for the defence in Rohde’s trial‚ in which the former Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s CEO is accused of killing his wife at a company conference at Spier‚ near Stellenbosch‚ in July 2016.

Miller — who worked in the same office as Rohde’s mistress‚ Jolene Alterskye — said he had been at the conference‚ and Appolis wanted to take a statement about what he had witnessed.

The detective had not arrived for an earlier appointment at the estate agency‚ and Miller said a new arrangement was made to meet at his home at 11am on a weekday morning to avoid the disruption involved in having police at the office.

Appolis had seen bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label at his office on two previous visits‚ said Miller.

“We give it to clients as gifts‚” he said. “When he got there to my house I asked if he wanted tea or coffee. He asked where his Blue Label whisky was. Sergeant Appolis had a whisky. They proceeded to take my statement.”

Miller said Samantha Bartlett‚ a Sotheby’s “PR lady”‚ typed his statement and he signed it. Van der Spuy said Appolis had then acted as the commissioner of oaths.

Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk asked Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe for an adjournment‚ saying he had been surprised by Miller’s testimony about Appolis drinking whisky‚ and needed to consult the detective about it.

Earlier‚ Miller told Van der Spuy there had been “rumours and speculation” about an affair between Rohde and Alterskye. “When I asked about it I was told that it was over and that Jason and Susan were rekindling‚” he said.

The state is convinced Rohde killed his wife‚ who was found dead with the cord of a hair iron around her neck behind a locked bathroom door. Rohde says she committed suicide.

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