File: Jason Rohde during his appearance at the Stellenbosch Magistrate Court.
CAPE TOWN – The chief executive of the property company, Geffen International Franchises (Pty) Ltd, Jason Rohde, briefly appeared in the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court on on Friday, charged with the alleged murder of his wife, Susan.
The proceedings, before magistrate Greg Jacobs, lasted perhaps five minutes, and he was warned to appear in court again on June 30.
State advocate Carien Teunissen told the court that the postponement was for further investigation, and that the date had been agreed between the State and the defence team — comprising of advocates Manny Witz and Ross McKernan and attorneys Daniel Witz and Tony Mostert.
Previously, there were three attorneys, but the third, Noorudien Hassan, was recently shot dead by an unknown assailant.
The moment Rohde, 47, stepped into the dock, at around 11am, he was surrounded by cameramen, who took photographs and TV footage of him before the magistrate entered.
He was not asked to plead to the charge, and will only do so when his trial commences in the Western Cape High Court on a date still to be fixed.
The charge sheet alleges that he murdered his wife in their hotel room at the Spier wine estate outside Stellenbosch on July 24, last year.
The couple stayed there whilst Rohde attended a Realty International conference at the estate.
At earlier proceedings, he was released on R1.1 million bail, and was required to pay R100,000 in cash immediately, and the balance by means of a bank guarantee.
Rohde claimed at his bail proceedings last year, that his presence in Gauteng was essential to enable him to attend to the needs of his three daughters, as well as his duties as the full-time head of GIF.
He said GIF had sent an email to the Sotheby network that he was on “extended leave”.
Teunissen said she had an email from the group, stating that Rohde had been suspended on full pay.
Rohde said being restricted to Cape Town (as he was at the time of his arrest in August last year), would result in his “constructive dismissal” from his post, as he was unable to fulfil his duties.
His defence team handed in an affidavit in which Rohde said: “If I cannot be with my agents in Gauteng, there is a real risk of the collapse of the business.”
He said his wife’s death had rendered him a single parent, and his three daughters had been identified by the media.
He was desperate to protect them, but could not do so from the Western Cape, he said.
He said his eldest daughter was in matric, and the bail condition restricting him to the Western Cape had caused her to be placed in boarding school.
His other two daughters were at boarding school in the Eastern Cape, but had to be at home with him during school holidays, he said.