Three suspects have been identified as Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and their lodger Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: In 2018, a gang ambushed an elderly British couple as they sought a secluded woodland region in South Africa, brutally killing them and tossing their remains to a group of crocodiles.
Botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and his wife Rachel, 63, have been conducting a six-month yearly quest for uncommon seeds for their international mail-order company. But after they were abducted, brutally killed, and dumped into a river full with man-eating reptiles in February 2018, the expedition ended in a grisly disaster.
The elderly couple’s remains were bundled in their sleeping bags by the thief, making it challenging to find them. Local fisherman discovered their horribly decayed body in the ocean and removed it from it. Rod’s body was discovered on February 17, but Rachel’s was discovered on February 14.
Their remains were sent to morgues since they could not be identified as the missing pair after being brutally eaten by the crocodiles. The authorities mandated DNA testing for all unclaimed corpses in morgues after police failed to locate the British couple for months. At that point, Rod and Rachel were recognized.
The deputies conducted a thorough search for the renowned botanists and were successful in apprehending four individuals. The murder, kidnapping, robbery, and theft of the married couple have been charged against three of the four accused. In exchange for crucial information, the fourth defendant, who was proven to have purchased Saunders’ mobile phones but was not engaged in the kidnapping and death, received a suspended sentence.
The three accused, named as Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife, Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35, their current roommate, all denied all charges in the Durban High Court, including kidnapping, murder, robbery, and theft.
The court was told, “According to the allegations, the accused killed Rodney Sanders and Rachel Saunders illegally and maliciously between February 10 and 15, both incidents taking place in the Ngoye Forest. When the third defendant, Mussa Ahmad Jackson, was taken into custody on March 23, he confessed that Patel had awakened him up at their residence on February 10 and instructed him to meet Del Vecchio on the highway. Patel and Jackson accompanied Del Vecchio in the Land Cruiser to the Tugela River Bridge where they assisted him in removing sleeping bags with human remains inside before throwing the sleeping bags into the river.”
The unfortunate botanical couple, who loved to travel and experience new things, were working on a BBC documentary when they passed away. According to the plan, they departed their Cape Town residence on February 5 in their Toyota Land Cruiser in order to meet the film team 900 miles away in the Drakensberg Mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal. While they were searching the mountain for rare Gladioli flower seeds, the pair was questioned by host Nick Bailey for an edition of Gardeners World.
Just three days after they began their trip with the BBC documentary team, on February 8, they last spoke with a worker at their place of employment, Silverhill Seeds. The suspects made multiple ATM withdrawals totaling £37,000 (R734,000) after apprehending the pair, according to evidence presented in court.
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