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S v Rohde (SS43/2017) [2018] ZAWCHC 146

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S v Rohde (SS43/2017) [2018] ZAWCHC 146

14th November 2018

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Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

[1] On a winter’s Sunday morning, in July 2016, the shocking news of the death of a guest at the Spier Hotel rippled through our community and gripped news coverage around the globe.  The upmarket hotel set in the picturesque Stellenbosch region of the Western Cape, also known as the Cape Winelands, posed a stark contrast to the half-naked body of Susan Rohde, dead on the bathroom floor of Room 221.  A life most certainly interrupted and cut short in her prime.  Just aged 46, she was the mother of three daughters.  She was also the wife of Jason Rohde, a successful businessman, the CEO at the time of a prestigious realty company.  The hotel was the venue for the Lew Geffen/Sotheby’s International Realty Conference during the weekend of 22 to 24 July 2016. It was however also the setting of the final scene of a love triangle which had formed some months before.

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[2] Jason and Susan lived in Bryanston, Johannesburg.  They were married for 23 years with three adolescent daughters, when two weeks after Valentine’s Day in February 2016, Susan discovered a surprise card left for him in his suitcase by his mistress, Jolene.  The card said it all. Jason had been having an affair.  Susan confronted her husband without delay.  She locked them up in their en-suite bathroom, isolating them from their children, interrogated what was apparent from the card to be proof of a love affair.  She instructed Jason to call his mistress, on speaker, and break off the affair in her presence.  Jason obliged.  This marked the first episode of what kicked off months of a myriad of emotions in this love triangle.  Susan’s ill-fated discovery was followed with months of harrowing trauma.  The emotional hallmarks of infidelity entwined itself like creeping ivy into the lives of those affected:  betrayal, suspicion, passion, sex, frustration, anxiety, anger and humiliation took its inevitable shape.  Susan struggled in silence.  She wanted to keep the appearance that all was well.  But beneath her exterior she was struggling to cope with her emotions.  She felt her life had been turned upside down.

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