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Durban - “A part of the guilt will always live with me”- those were the words of Robin Matthews, one of the men to have seen UK botanist couple, Rodney and Rachel Saunders, alive.

Matthews was speaking to The Mercury after the Hawks confirmed that Rodney’s body had been found and identified.

Matthews said he had suggested that the couple have a look at the plant species in the Ngoye Forest area.

It was thereafter that the couple were reported missing.

Rodney’s body was found on the banks of the Tugela River, while the search continues for Rachel.

Matthews said while he was completely shocked at the discovery, he felt it was some sort of relief and closure.

“I am still very confused as to how Rod’s body ended up there or how long it took for police to find him. People were looking all over, especially around the forest,” he said.

Matthews had filmed a documentary on the plants of the Drakensberg with the couple, about two days before they were reported missing.

“I had spent about three or four days with them. I had heard that a couple had gone missing in KZN and I was really stumped. When we spoke, they said they were going to go to the Bivani Dam to look for a particular species of plant. I had suggested they go to the forest as they had last been there many years before,” he said.

Matthews said their disappearance made him feel guilty.

“If I never suggested it, this would have not happened. I will always live with that part of the guilt but I guess it was their decision to go to the forest,” he said.

Matthews described the Saunders as an adventurous couple who lived and thrived on nature.

“I am glad Rod’s body was found. I hope they find Rachel too,” he said.

The Mercury