Former property mogul Jason Rohde, who killed his wife, Susan, in July 2016 in cold blood while at a function in a luxury Stellenbosch hotel, will have to hand himself over to the authorities to start serving his prison sentence.
Rohde was earlier sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for his wife’s killing and for the obstruction of justice, as he had made his wife’s killing look like suicide.
He was, however, granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
While his murder conviction stands, he will serve five years less than his initial sentence, as the Supreme Court of Appeal has reduced the sentence to 15 years.
Rohde appealed both his murder conviction as well as his sentence. He maintained that his wife had committed suicide and that he had nothing to do with her death.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected his appeal against his murder conviction. Five justices found that the evidence is clear that Rohde had strangled her.
Rohde was found guilty of murdering his wife in a hotel room at Spier in Stellenbosch, where his mistress and colleague Jolene Alterskye was also in attendance.
According to Rohde, he found his wife dead on the bathroom floor after she hanged herself on the bathroom door, but a post-mortem found that foul play had been involved in Susan’s death.
In once again analysing all the evidence, the Supreme Court this week concluded that Susan did not hang herself.
The court said the State proved beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased was killed by manual strangulation and that only thereafter, the ligature was applied to her neck.
It thus follows that the high court correctly convicted Rohde on both the murder and on the charge of obstructing justice.
The high court sentenced Rohde to 20 years for the murder on the presumption that he had also punched her. Judge Saldulker said as there was no evidence to support this, the 20- year sentence was overturned and replaced with a 15 year sentence.
“The appellant must be sentenced on Count 1 (the murder) on the basis that he unlawfully and intentionally killed the deceased by manual strangulation but did not assault her in any other way.
“It follows that this court should thus consider sentence afresh,” Judge Saldulker said.
She added that it still remained a very serious crime.
“He murdered his wife in a brutal and callous manner. The deceased’s death must be devastating to her daughters and those who loved her.”
“Regrettably violence against women and children has become a pervasive phenomenon internationally and this country has in recent times seen gender-based violence increase to intolerable and unacceptable proportions.”
Judge Saldulker added that the sentence of this court must reflect the abhorrence of society with regard to violence against women.
“Furthermore, it is very important to bear in mind that the appellant is unrepentant and takes no responsibility for his crimes,” she said.
The court ordered that the three years he received for the obstruction of justice, must run with the 15 years for murder, totalling a 15-year sentence.