Body of missing botanist found after four months
THE body of missing Cape Town botanist Rachel Saunders has been found after an extensive four-month search.
Internationally renowned botanists Rachel Saunders, 63, and her husband Rod, 73, went missing on February 12 in the Bivane Dam area near Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal.
Four days later, following an alert that two suspects on a terror watch list had gone on a spending spree with the couple’s credit cards, police swooped on an Ngoye homestead near Mtunzini.
Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 38, and Fatima Patel, 27, were arrested there.
Two other suspects, Themba Xulu and Jackson Ahmed Mussa, were also arrested.
The husband’s body was found in the crocodile-infested Tugela River in April.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said Rachel’s body had been positively identified.
“A multi-pronged investigation last week led to the positive identification of the mortal remains of Rachel Saunders.
Rodney’s body was identified in April after investigations led to the arrest of four suspects,” said Ramovha.
Ramovha said DNA results had positively identified the body after an extensive search at government mortuaries around the province to test for a match.
He said the Hawks still don’t know where the body was found.
Ramovha said Xulu had subsequently entered into a plea bargain with the State.
He was convicted and sentenced on May 25 to three years imprisonment, suspended for five years for illegal possession of stolen property, which included the victims’ cellphones.
The other three accused remain in custody and are expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court in August.
They face a raft of charges which include kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, two counts of murder as well as possession of stolen property.