Rohde trial: Did investigating officer sip premium whisky while taking statement?
A former colleague who had seen Jason and Susan Rohde hours before she was found dead at the Spier hotel in 2016 claimed on Wednesday that the investigating officer in the case asked for a drink after arriving at his home in the morning to take a statement.
Brendan Miller said he had recommended that Sergeant Marlon Appollis come to his home in Fresnaye at the time as it was "a bit tense" at the office with police walking in and out.
Miller heads up the Atlantic Seaboard area for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty and had attended the company's weekend convention at Spier in Stellenbosch.
He was called as a defence witness in the Western Cape High Court for Jason Rohde's murder trial.
Rohde pleaded not guilty to killing his wife and to staging her suicide on July 24, 2016.
Miller testified that from what he could recall of Rohde and his wife, they had walked into Miller's hotel room almost at the same time, just hours before she was found dead.
Rumours, speculation about affair
Rohde's mistress Jolene Alterskye and another colleague were also in the room.
"She [Susan] was wearing a white dressing robe. She kind of walked halfway down the passage. I offered Jason a drink. She repeatedly said: 'Jason, Jason, Jason', and then he got up and left."
Miller could not remember any physical contact between the two and he said those who were left in the room carried on chatting.
"It was a little bit tense. Everyone was just a little bit quiet."
He said he had not been aware of the affair but there had been rumours and speculation.
"When I asked about it, I was told it was nothing, it was over."
'He asked where the Blue Label whisky was'
Some time later, after Susan's body was discovered, Miller said Appollis visited him at his office.
He saw the whisky they gave to clients on his shelf and apparently asked Miller if he also had a bottle at his home.
"It is a premium Johnny Walker [Blue Label] whisky. It is the most expensive bottle, R2 000-odd a bottle," he told defence lawyer Graham van der Spuy.
He said Appollis arrived at his home with two officers at around 11:00.
At the meeting was another colleague and Sotheby's spokesperson Samantha Bartlett.
"We offered anyone tea or coffee. The sergeant had a whisky. He asked where the Blue Label whisky was."
He said his statement was taken and Bartlett typed it up.
After a short adjournment, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk confirmed he had spoken to Appollis, who recalled that he had seen the whisky and asked if he could have a sip.
'He had the full tot'
He said Appollis recalled that he had the whisky after taking the statement, when they were standing and smoking on Miller's balcony around midday.
Van der Spuy asked Miller to clarify how much Appollis had drank.
"He had a tot of whisky. Neat as I recall. He had the full tot. He had it before taking my statement," Miller replied.
Miller also conceded to Van Niekerk that he had been drinking at Spier that fateful night and that his memory might have failed him and there could be different recollections of what happened.
"We have got another version that Susan did in fact walk up to Jason at some stage after asking him to leave. In a similar vein, you might have been busy drinking or your eyes were averted and that could have happened," said Van Niekerk.
Miller said it was possible. He said it "could be" that Susan had been agitated.
He was excused from the stand.
The trial will resume on Monday.