Convicted killer Jason Rohde denied bail, pending appeal

Jason Rohde, the businessman convicted of murdering his wife, arrived at the high court in Cape Town on 5 December 2018 to listen to evidence in his sentencing proceedings. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

The court was not persuaded that the facts before it were sufficiently compelling to justify his release.

Convicted killer Jason Rohde will not be a free man, pending the outcome of his appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe did not grant his application for bail on Thursday.

She said the court was of the view that releasing Rohde on bail would offend the rule of law and make a mockery of the criminal justice system.

The court was not persuaded that the facts before it were sufficiently compelling to justify his release.

Salie-Hlophe found Rohde guilty in November last year of the murder of his wife Susan and of staging her suicide at the Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch three years ago.

She said he had “staged her death as a play” and roped in various “actors” and “extras” to fabricate a story that she had killed herself.

Rohde has, however, maintained his innocence, claiming his extramarital affair had driven his wife to take her own life.

In February, he was sentenced to 18 years for the murder and five years for staging the suicide, of which three years were ordered to be served concurrently with the sentence for the murder.

He applied for leave to appeal, but Salie-Hlophe turned down his request in April, saying the defence had rehashed arguments made during Rohde’s trial and sentencing.

He petitioned the SCA and, last month, secured leave to appeal to that court.

A date has not yet been set for the hearing.

Advocate William King SC had argued in the bail application that the court should consider that leave had now been granted.

He said his client was not a flight risk as he had a new option before him: “Argue the appeal, be acquitted and carry on with life.”

Rohde would suffer severe prejudice if he was kept in prison, said King.

He said the State had indicated that the matter was likely to be heard in the first or second term of next year.

“He would have served over a year and a half of his sentence which, if acquitted, he can’t recover,” King argued.

He said Rohde required bail to stop the “hostile takeover” of his company and that there would be dire financial consequences should he lose it.

Prosecutor Louis van Niekerk argued that there were no new facts before the court and that the SCA did not yet have access to the full record.

He said it would not be in the interests of justice to release Rohde on bail.

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