Prominent businessman Jason Rohde was found guilty of murdering his wife, Susan, by the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
He was also convicted of obstructing the ends of justice.
Jason murdered his wife during a Sotheby’s conference held at the luxury Spier Wine Estate in 2016 and made it look as though she had committed suicide. Susan’s body was found in the bathroom of the couple’s hotel room.
A maintenance worker at the wine estate, Desmond Daniels, discovered Susan’s body after responding to a call made by Jason, who claimed that he couldn’t open the bathroom door in the hotel room he was sharing with his wife.
Daniels unlocked the door with a screwdriver and discovered Susan’s naked body with the cord of her curling iron wrapped around her neck. The cord, however, was not tightly wound around her neck, and Daniels was able to untie it easily.
Police and medical services were called to the scene, but Susan had already passed away.
It later emerged that Susan had found out about an affair her husband was having with his coworker, Jolene Alterskye.
While the State maintains that she was murdered by her husband, Jason Rohde’s defense insists she committed suicide.
The Presiding Judge, Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, was convinced by the State’s argument, mentioning that Jason’s colleague, Mark Thompson, had given the impression that Susan’s death may not have been a suicide as she did not have “suicidal tendencies”. Susan had also not been depressed.
Salie-Hlophe also noted that Jason’s testimony was delivered with “studied precision”, and stated he did not make a compelling witness.
“This court finds that the accused staged the suicide and had the direct intention to kill,” the judge ruled earlier today.
State forensic pathologist Dr Akmal Coetzee-Khan performed the first autopsy on Susan’s body and concluded that she was murdered.
Jason’s bail has been withdrawn and he will be taken into police custody.
“The State has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt,” Salie-Hlophe said.