Murder case bail hearing postponed
THE bail hearing of four people, accused of kidnapping, robbing, assaulting and murdering Cape Town-based botanists Rodney, 73, and Rachel, 64, Saunders was postponed again this week.
This after proceedings stalled in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after one of the accused rejected his legal aid attorney.
Husband and wife Sayefudeen del Vecchio, 37, and Fatima Patel, 27, and Thembamandla Xulu, 19, and Ahmad Jackson Mussa, 36, known as “Bazooka”, appeared before Magistrate Chris Annamalai, who was standing in for Magistrate Valaramen Kathravaloo.
All four have been charged with kidnapping, assault, robbery and – more recently – the murders of the Saunders.
Del Vecchio and Patel also face terrorism charges.
Malawian national Mussa was the last to be arrested on March 22 in a case that has made international headlines.
Xulu’s bail bid was rejected and while Thursday’s proceeding was for a bail bid for Patel, the court heard that Del Vecchio would also be applying.
However, proceedings were substantially stalled as Mussa rejected his legal aid defence twice while making use of a court translator, saying he wanted private representation.
The instructing attorney for Patel and Del Vecchio, Joburgbased Nadeem Mohamed, was chastised by Magistrate Annamalai after it was found Mohamed had entered the holding cells at the court with Mussa’s legal aid lawyer and spoken to the suspect during a recess.
This was a conflict of interest, according to Magistrate Annamalai, who said Mohamed should have known better and should’ve followed protocol if he wanted to represent Mussa.
Mohamed also represented Patel and her brother last year after they were allegedly found to be in possession of bullets and a stun grenade during a police raid in 2016.
The Saunders, who were dual British and South African passport holders, went missing between February 10 and 15, at or near Bivane Dam in the Vryheid area.
The accused are due to appear in court again on April 25 and 26. – African News Agency (ANA)