Murder accused property mogul Jason Rohde will return to the scene where his wife took her last breath over a year ago.
Rohde’s trial in the High Court in Cape Town will begin on Monday with an inspection of the wine estate hotel room where his wife Susan’s body was found.
The former Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s International Realty CEO is charged with murdering his wife and obstructing the administration of justice for allegedly making her death look like a suicide.
Susan’s body was found in the bathroom of the couple’s room at Spier‚ near Stellenbosch‚ in July 2016. Rohde’s high-profile trial has attracted considerable public interest‚ much like the trial of Henri van Breda‚ who is accused of killing his father‚ mother and brother with an axe at the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate in Stellenbosch.
According to Eric Ntabazalila‚ spokesman for the prosecution in the Western Cape‚ the inspection will be preceded by a brief court appearance “for plea proceedings”. A convoy will then transport the court to Spier.
The indictment against Rohde‚ handed in to court in July‚ accuses him of trying to make Susan’s murder appear like a suicide.
“The post-mortem examination conducted on the body of the deceased show the cause of death as being consistent with asphyxia following manual strangulation and external airway obstruction. The features of the ligature imprint abrasion mark are consistent with post-mortem application to the neck‚” the indictment said.
“The accused is responsible for the death of his wife.”
Some of the similar features in the Rohde and Van Breda cases are a strong team of lawyers and the use of forensic evidence to fight the case. Sergeant Marlon Appollis is the investigating officer in both high-profile cases.
DNA evidence took centre stage in the prosecution’s case against Van Breda‚ which resumes on Monday with the beginning of the defence case.
Rohde’s lawyer‚ Daniel Witz‚ said in July that they would fight the case based on forensic evidence. “Our view is that the most important aspect of this case is the forensic evidence‚” he said.
“Unless the state can overcome the forensic evidence then all the surrounding circumstances are not as relevant as the state currently think they are.”