20 June 2018

South Africa: Jason Rohde - Defence Accuses State of 'Character Assassination' of Its Pathologist

The legal team for murder accused businessman Jason Rohde on Wednesday accused the State of "character assassination" against its pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal after the prosecutor highlighted cases where his expert opinion was irrelevant.

During Perumal's cross-examination in the Western Cape High Court, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk focused on his CV and cases he had mentioned during his evidence-in-chief as having worked on.

These included his input into the forensic investigations of the deaths of Solomon Mujuru, the husband of former Zimbabwean vice-president Joice Mujuru, and former South African cricketer Tertius Bosch.

Van Niekerk said the courts never ended up adjudicating his expert opinion in some of the cases he mentioned and it was not relevant to raise them in the first place except for "a bit of name dropping".

He continued that it was interesting to hear about the cases but they gave no indication of the quality of his opinion.

Before Perumal could respond, defence lawyer advocate Graham van der Spuy sprang up and said he did not know if the State was engaging in some form of character assassination.

"What is my learned friend trying to achieve by this?" Van der Spuy asked.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said she did not perceive the State to be assassinating Perumal's character because the prosecutor had set out the mentioned cases in his CV.

Van Nierkerk said his intention was to examine Perumal's expert opinion.

State wants to question Perumal about Van Breda case

Salie-Hlophe replied that Perumal's CV gave her the impression that he was extremely experienced in forensic pathology and court proceedings.

Perumal was hired by Rohde to conduct a second autopsy on his wife Susan, after her death at the Spier wine estate on July 24, 2016.

Rohde has pleaded not guilty to killing her and staging a suicide.

The State questioned Perumal's credibility on Tuesday by referring to two past cases where a court had rejected his testimony.

On Wednesday, the court heard that the State wanted to ask Perumal questions about his involvement in the trial of Henri van Breda.

Van Breda was recently given three life sentences for axing his parents and brother to death, and seriously injuring his sister.

However, Van Niekerk said it would be fair to first give the defence time to read through the lengthy judgment.

The trial continues.

Source: News24

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