Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlope described Susan Rohde as a caring person who loved her family, before handing down a 20-year prison sentence to her husband and killer, Jason Rohde.
Rohde was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment for one count of murder, and a further five years for defeating the ends of justice. Three years of the second count will run concurrently with the murder charge, and will see Rohde remain behind bars for 20 years in total.
This sentence was handed down despite Rohde’s mother and friends testifying for him and pleading for the sentence to be mitigated for the sake of his children.
Rohde’s lawyers also argued that imprisonment would be harder on a person of wealth than it would be on someone who has less wealth, but Salie-Hlope argued that this was a “nonsensical” statement and that all are treated equally in the face of the law.
As reported by The Citizen, Salie-Hlope also said that the loss of Susan’s life is traumatic. “By blaming her for demising circumstances where you have murdered her, added insulting injury. You sought to tarnish her legacy and by simulating her death as a suicide, you left her loved ones to further suffer in their grief and speculate in anguish as to what motivated Susan in taking of her own life,” she said. “You showcased her, Mr Rohde, regardless of the obligation you owed to protect her, you owed her body, you owed her dignity and her legacy. You committed this offence in a cruel and selfish pursuit to escape the letter of the rule and defeat the ends of justice.”
Salie-Hlope added that South Africa is the world’s femicide capital. “Murder committed by a man on a woman should not be treated lightly,” she said.
She added that Rohde’s sentence is not just an act of rehabilitation, but a deterrent.
Rohde was arrested after Susan’s body was found on July 24, 2016. She was discovered with an electric cord tied around her neck hanging from the hook behind the bathroom door of her and her husband’s room at Spier Wine Estate hotel in Stellenbosch.
Rohde was found guilty of murder and obstructing the ends of justice when he staged her suicide.