Rohde case: Psychologist states categorically wife was not suicidal
Susan Rohde was not suicidal. Her psychologist Jane Newcombe told the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday that she was “shocked” when it emerged the naked body of the mother of three was found hanging in the bathroom of a Stellenbosch hotel in July 2016.
Her multimillionaire husband Jason Rohde claimed Susan killed herself. But shortly after her death he was arrested and is on trial for murder.
Newcombe said: “I’m saying quite categorically that I did not perceive Susan to be suicidal.”
It had emerged that Rohde was having an affair with a Cape Town estate agent, Jolene Alterskye, but Newcombe said Susan did not hate her husband’s mistress. In fact, Susan wanted to work on their marriage and told Newcombe that Rohde had tried to end things with his mistress. Susan had told her Rohde had “become quite aggressive about the way he wanted our relationship to go forward”.
Newcombe started seeing Susan in June 2016 after she found out about her husband’s infidelity. She described Susan as anxious rather than depressed.
“A depressed person loses hope, they believe there is no future.She had not given up hope.”
In July, despite Rohde’s objection, Susan accompanied him to a conference in Stellenbosch for the company he had worked for. Alterskye, who still works for the company, also attended.
Two days before Susan was allegedly killed, she called Newcombe.
“She said that when she arrived everyone was warm and welcoming,” said Newcombe.
“At one point some of the older women started a discussion [in which she participated] about how women became invisible after 40. One of the gentlemen had said to Susan she was crazy and that the room lit up when she came in [because] she was the most beautiful woman in the room.”
This “distressed” Susan because she wanted such words to come from Rohde.
Newcombe said Susan described the early stages of her relationship with Rohde as “very close and affectionate” but at a point he started distancing himself from her.