23 November 2017

South Africa: Pathologist's Cross Examination in Rohde Trial Halted

The Western Cape High Court trial of murder accused property mogul Jason Rohde has been postponed.

The postponement was granted to give Rohde's defence team an opportunity to prepare to cross examine a pathologist, who observed the autopsy on his wife Susan. Rohde is accused of murdering Susan at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on July 24, 2016.

In the witness stand is Dr Deidre Abrahams, who is the chief pathologist in charge of the Western Cape government's Winelands and West Coast regions.

She supports the findings of State pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan - that Susan suffered blunt force trauma to her ribs and that she had a lung contusion, before she died of manual strangulation.

It is Rohde's case that Susan committed suicide. The couple had argued earlier in the day over his attempt to visit fellow estate agent Jolene Alterskye, who was his mistress.

However, the State alleges that she was murdered.

The defence is expected to cross examine Abrahams on her views when the case resumes on Tuesday.

Before the court adjourned, however, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe asked questions about the conflicting conclusions in the findings of the State pathologist and a private pathologist, hired by the defence.

"If she had fallen in the parking lot earlier and fractured her ribs, could she have walked to her room?" Salie-Hlophe asked.

She was referring to the defence's submission that Susan had fallen during the course of the argument she and her husband had outside their room hours before her death.

"This is quite a painful event. One cannot exclude that she could move, but I suppose not very well," Abrahams responded.

She said Susan would have been suffering from reduced consciousness, bringing up and swallowing blood.

Salie-Hlophe asked whether it would have caused alarm, prompting medical assistance.

"She might have expressed pain to somebody," said Abrahams.

The trial continues.


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