A maintenance worker from Spier Wine Estate physically demonstrated to the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday how he came to be the first person to see Susan Rohde’s body

Jason Rohde is on trial for his wife’s murder and for defeating/obstructing the ends of justice by allegedly staging her suicide. Her body was found hanging from a bathroom door in their hotel room.

At the time the couple had attended Sotheby’s annual conference at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

READ MORE: Not enough blood to prove Susan Rohde’s death was violent – court

Desmond Daniels shared with the court his initial thoughts after he received a request to unlock the bathroom door in Jason Rohde’s hotel room at 08:15 on 24 July 2016.

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“I thought something had happened – why couldn’t it open?” said Daniels.

With the aid of the actual bathroom door, Daniels demonstrated how he unlocked and opened the door 15cm wide before he saw her body.

Daniels testified that the bathroom door was locked , but noted that it was possible to unlock the door from the outside using a screwdriver, a coin or a teaspoon. He said that there were teaspoons in the room.

A seemingly calm and collected Jason Rohde observed as a police officer in court volunteered to act as his wife in Daniels’ demonstration.

‘A cable was around her neck’

“When I opened the door, I saw a leg near the basin – from the knee to the feet,” Daniels told the court, with the aid of an Afrikaans interpreter.

“[Jason Rohde] called out ‘Susie!’ and went inside.”

Daniels explained that he waited outside the bathroom until Jason Rohde asked him for assistance.

“When I went in, the person was naked. [Jason] held [Susan] under the arms. Her head was skewed, tilted a bit,” he said.

“There was no breathing and a cable was around her neck.”

READ MORE: Chief pathologist says Susan Rohde was strangled to death

Daniels told the court that the electrical cable from hair curling tongs was loosely tied around Susan Rohde’s neck.

“The cord was not tight around her neck because I could untie it easily,” he said.

He then left the bathroom and contacted the maintenance control room.

“I made a phone call to the control room because the person wasn’t breathing, so that the ambulance and police could be notified,” Daniels told the court.

READ MORE: Jason Rohde experiencing “severe manic depressive episodes

Legal team downsized

Jason Rohde’s lawyer advocate Van der Spuy requested a postponement to “adequately challenge the evidence”.

“I was not involved in this aspect of the case at all. I cannot do justice to this case if I cross-examine the witness now,” said Van der Spuy.

Jason Rohde recently downsized his legal team, which previously consisted of advocates Van der Spuy, Pete Mihalik, Ross McKernan and attorneys Daniel Witz and Stacey Webb.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said that, while it was “not ideal for the flow evidence in a criminal trial” to be unduly delayed, she would grant Van der Spuy’s request to postpone Daniels’ cross-examination.

State witness Colonel Poolman will take the stand on Thursday.



Author: News24.com