Couple’s bodies dumped in Tugela River
CHILLING details of how missing botanists, Rod (74) and Rachael Saunders (63), were murdered before their bodies were dumped in the Tugela River were revealed on Friday afternoon.
While the general location of the bodies is known to the Hawks and police, the search continues for the remains of the elderly couple, who were last seen in the Ngoye Forest Reserve on 10 February.
On Friday, it was confirmed that a fourth suspect, known as ‘Bazooka,’ had led investigators to Tugela River Mouth where the bodies of the Cape Town-based couple are reported to have been dumped.
According to a source close to the
ZO, Bazooka had pointed out the area in which the bodies had been dumped.
Reports suggest the pair were murdered, their bodies tied up in sleeping bags and thrown into the Tugela River.
While Search and Rescue Units accompanying the Hawks begin operations to attempt to recover the bodies, it might be too little, too late.
The Tugela River is notorious for being home to hundreds of crocodiles and within a space of some seven weeks, the chances of even recovering a sleeping bag are slim. The ZO previously reported that Bazooka was the outstanding piece of the puzzle in the case of the missing Saunders couple.
Since the arrests of Bazooka’s accomplices, Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio (38) and Bibi Fatima Patel (27) on 15 February, a provincial manhunt had been launched to find the Malawian national who was deemed to have played an integral role in the abduction of the missing Saunders couple.
Meanwhile alleged ISIS acolyte Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio (38) entered Court A at the Verulam Regional Court on Thursday with apparent arrogance.
Accompanied by his co-accused, Bibi Fatima Patel (27) and Thembamandla Xulu (19), Del Vecchio glared menacingly towards journalists seated in the front row of the public gallery.
The three are alleged to have masterminded the abduction of Rod (74) and Rachael Saunders (63), a case which moves into its seventh week.
Del Vecchio’s vengeful demeanor was indicative of a man who had been subjected to a week in one of the most secure prisons in the southern hemisphere.
Last week the ZO revealed that Del Vecchio had been shifted from Durban’s Westville prison to isolation in Kokstad’s Ebongweni ‘C-Max’ prison, South Africa’s only super-maximum security prison.
State advocate Adele Barnard slammed accusations thrown in court by Del Vecchio and Patel’s defence attorney,
Jay Naidoo that the state had requested his client be moved to C-Max from Westville.
‘I had been informed by the investigating officer that Correctional Services officials put in the request to have him transferred as his (Del Vecchio) behavior compromised the safety of the rest of the prison,’ she said.
Xulu’s bail application was meanwhile refused by Magistrate Vallaraman Kathuravaloo on the basis that ‘he previously stated that he had a lot to say to the court, and was given the opportunity to do so which he never did; this means he is deliberately withholding vital information from this court.’
‘Bazooka’ is expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrates court on Monday facing murder charges.
Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio
Bibi Fatima Patel (27)