It’s been 74 days since we last saw Jason Rohde, the millionaire convicted of murdering his wife Susan. Almost three months have past since the first phase of the sentencing trial [which usually lasts half a day to a day] was heard on December 5th, 2018. It was speculated that Rohde’s eldest daughter Kathryn would testify, but ultimately she did not. His younger daughters were writing final matric exams at the time. This was brought up in December as well.
Curiously during the trial none of the daughters names were to be uttered in court. This was strictly enforced by Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe. Post conviction, it appears, that’s changed.
Loadshedding affected some of the coverage but it seems the media have dodged a bullet today, with no loadshedding scheduled after it returned with a vengeance last week.
In three months, amnesia can set in. The sentencing court may “forget” the merits of the case, and become foggy about evidence. The defense can then pull out a new canvas and sketch their client to their heart’s content. To a point.
Today they’ve elected to try to do that using three character witnesses: two friends of the convicted murderer Jason Rohde will testify, and finally his mother, Brenda, will testify on behalf of her son in mitigation of sentence.
In hindsight, just like the entire trial, it seems much ado about nothing. Because Judge Salie-Hlophe made a passing remark right at the end of the court day that she didn’t really need the heads of argument from both counsels. This makes sense. Like the Oscar Pistorius case, and Henri van Breda, this one was pretty obvious from the get go. And like the Judge in the Van Breda case, Salie-Hlophe is pretty clear on what needs to happen to Rohde. He didn’t just commit a crime, he – like Pistorius and Van Breda – went out of his way to obstruct justice.
The irony is that had Rohde been found innocent, and his wife “guilty” of committing suicide, a life insurance payment would nevertheless have kicked in. Having been found guilty, another insurance policy kicked in – from Liberty Life. Effectively then the mother’s death by her father has paid for her children’s studies.