Brit couple brutally murdered and fed to crocodiles by South African gang

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A British couple have been brutally murdered and their bodies tossed into a pack of crocodiles nearby after a ruthless gang pounced on the pair, a court heard.

Botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and wife Rachel, 63, had spent six months a year scouring wild mountains and forests for rare seeds.

The pair had been on their travels when they met their gruesome end, being kidnapped and beaten to death before being put into their sleeping bags and tossed into a crocodile-infested river in February 2018.

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Badly decomposed bodies of the pair were later discovered by fishermen days later, but it took months for police to test the DNA and identify Rod and Rachel.

The full-scale hunt for the missing botanists had led to the arrest of four people, three of which have been charged with murder, kidnap, robbery and theft of the married couple.

Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, and his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, as well as their lodger at the time, Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35, all deny the kidnap, murder, robbery and theft charges at Durban High Court.

A fourth suspect was found to have brought mobile phones belonging to Saunders and was not involved in the kidnap and killing was handed a suspended sentence.

The botanist pair had been making a documentary with the BBC at the time of their death.

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The court heard that a withdrawal of £37,000 (R734,000) had been made by the defendants from various ATM machines after kidnapping the botanist pair.

A statement continued: "It is alleged that between February 10 and 15 at the Ngoye Forest the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill Rachel Saunders and between the same dates did unlawfully and intentionally kill Rodney Sanders.

"On March 23 the third accused Mussa Ahmad Jackson was arrested and he made a statement to the effect he was woken by Patel at their home on February 10 and told to meet Del Vecchio on the road.

"Del Vecchio in the Land Cruiser and Patel and Jackson followed to the Tugela River Bridge where they helped him remove sleeping bags from the back of the Toyota and they threw them with human bodies inside into the river."

The trial continues.

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  • Murder
  • Crocodiles
  • Courts

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