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#Rohde Court hears cord used to hang up Susan was not strong enough

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The head of the engineering faculty at the police laboratory told the Western Cape High Court that the cord, if tied once, could hold up to 39 kilograms.

Jason Rohde speaking to his Attorney Tony Mostert at the Western Cape High Court. Jason is accused of murdering his wife at the Spier Hotel. Picture Cindy Waxa/African News Agency

Cape Town – The electrical cord used in Susan Rohde’s death would not have been able to support her weight, had she been hanging from it. 

That’s the opinion of the head of engineering faculty at the police laboratory, Constable Daniel Poolman. 

On Tuesday, Poolman told the Western Cape High Court that the cord, if tied once, could hold up to 39 kilograms.

Susan weighed 51kg.

He said if the cord was stretched over the 39kg limit it would have failed and would not have been able to revert itself back to its elastic form.

“A cord like this is not made to handle tensile forces, it’s made to conduct electricity.

“The cable would fail if force of more than 40kg is applied,” he said. 

The defence advocate Graham Van der Spuy asked if this would be the same in a case of partial hanging, where the feet touch the ground.

In response, Poolman said he could not comment, as he did not conduct such tests. 

Poolman also commented on the ligature mark on Susan’s neck. 

He said based on his experience, which include the engineering and forensic work in vehicle accidents, that for a mark to be on the front part of the neck, Susan must have been strangled from behind.

Susan, the wife of former property mogul Jason Rohde was found dead in a locked bathroom in a room she shared with her husband at the Spier Wine Estate, on July 24, 2016.

She was found with an electronic cord coiled around her neck. The cord had been tied to the hook of the bathroom door.

It is the State’s case that she was murdered by her husband, but the defence argues that it was suicide.

Spier Wine Estate chief executive, Joep Schoof, also testified in court after it was alleged by the defence that his employee and the handyman who first witnessed Susan’s body, Desmond Daniels, had been coached.

The defence made the allegation two weeks ago, after pictures surfaced of Daniels and Schoof eating together during lunch time, while Daniels was still under oath and giving testimony in the Western Cape High Court.

“Spier has no interest, gain or loss other than our team members who need to be here in court,” said Schoof.

He said the hotel company was responsible for getting Daniels to court and whenever they did speak, it was not about the case.

“I would tell him I don’t want to talk about the trial. We had lunch, coffee and we spoke about the rain, water and his family – those kind of topics,” he said.

Schoof said he wanted to ensure Daniels was eating, and that he was being transported to the court safely. 

“I was here to look after him and that’s what I did,” he said.

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Cape Argus