Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe has excused a witness brought by the defence in the Jason Rohde trial, and has ruled that the forensic psychiatrist’s testimony is not admissible.
Dr Larissa Panieri-Peter, who was hired by Rohde’s defence team, gave testimony about the conclusions she came to after compiling a report on Susan Rohde’s mental state.
On Tuesday, however, the credibility of the witness and her methods were called into question by the judge.
“Indeed the report is objectionable in many respects. I have repeatedly expressed concerns and reservations during her testimony. Her report repeats evidence already placed before court, and goes far beyond scope, expertise and role of the witness,” said a visibly angry Salie-Hlophe.
“In fact, it went about to use the function and role of court, whose role it is to determine whether Susan’s death was a suicide or homicide. No court acting reasonably would abdicate this responsibility,” she continued.
“The report also makes mention of anonymous persons and evidence already before court. This report and expert testimony of [Panieri-Peter’s] is no more than regurgitating testimonies already placed before this court,” Salie-Hlophe said.
“Simply put, I perceive that this evidence and report by this witness is nothing more than an attempt by the defence to get a second bite at the cherry. Further examination is not allowed, and accordingly this witness would be excused.”
In response, Rohde’s advocate, Graham Van der Spuy, slammed the judge’s decision. “It is highly prejudicial to the accused, there is not a jot of justification, and the trial has been contaminated as a result.”
The court has been adjourned until next week, when the defence’s next witness, a forensic pathologist, will be called.
Judge Salie-Nhlope's displeasure was most evident. If us ordinary folk could see/hear #PanieriPeters usurping position of the court, it's not surprising Judge got very annoyed. VDS's post-traumatic-court-syndrome fell, I think, on very deaf ears.#Rohde
— Scandal: SA's MegaWealthy Murderers (@Truth2Come) June 12, 2018
"It is highly prejudicial to the accused, there is not a jot of justification & the trial has been contaminated as a result." The Judge removes her glasses. Van der Spuy effectively asking for a mistrial. Van Niekerk response: court's procedure is indeed according to law. #Rohde
— Nick van der Leek (@HiRezLife) June 12, 2018