CAPE TOWN – Susan Rohde’s father lost not only his daughter, but also the “big happy family” he once had.
Her mother grieves for the loss of her “best friend” and not being able to voice her thoughts about her death while remaining neutral for her granddaughters.
Her brother in Australia grapples from afar with strained family relationships and fond memories that cause him pain.
And her three daughters, two of them writing matric, confront grief and confusion, not knowing who to trust as they struggle with their fear of losing their father who they regard as their only source of stability.
This is snapshot of the emotional devastation left in the wake of Susan Rohde’s death, her husband’s murder trial and his recent conviction.
It’s all captured in a heartbreaking victim impact report handed up by the State to the Western Cape High Court this week during Jason Rohde’s first appearance for sentencing.
Voicing his feelings for the first time during the trial, Newlands pensioner Neville Holmes, 79, said that while he had accepted his daughter’s death, he was concerned about the well-being of his grandchildren.
“The father indicated that his relationship with his granddaughters is not the same anymore and this is the greatest impact he has experienced,” reads the report.
“He believes that between the maternal and paternal families the children have been hearing different things regarding the trial and this has caused confusion for them. He verbalised that he and his wife have attempted, as far as possible, to remain neutral regarding the trial, for the sake of his grandchildren.”
Former teacher Diane Holmes, 73, reported that the strained relationship with her grandchildren was an “unexpected consequence” of her daughter’s death.
Susan’s parents didn’t express any opinions about sentencing but experienced “relief at the judgment as this has provided them some clarity and peace, although this does not compensate them for their loss”.
While Susan’s youngest sister, Claremont mom Angela Norton, 47, battled with regrets of unfinished business with Susan, she was also facing lost relationships with her twin nieces, who she visited at boarding school last weekend.
Besides having just a week to complete his report, wrote probation officer Rian Perry, its other major limitation was the defence denying him consultation with the Rohde twins due to their matric exams.
Instead, Perry had to rely on an interview with the eldest daughter, Kathryn, who claimed her sisters shared her sentiments.
Kathryn, said in the report, she longed for the “closeness” and “emotional support” of her mother whose death “has affected every aspect of her life” right down to the “simple things such as running out of shampoo and her mother not being there to replace it anymore”.