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Trial of trio charged with murder and kidnapping of UK couple to start on Monday

Rachel and Rodney Saunders were murdered in 2018, and now their suspected killers are to go on trial. This photograph was posted on BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Nick Bailey’s Twitter account just days before, where he praised the couple for their vast knowledge of indigenous plants. Picture: Supplied

Rachel and Rodney Saunders were murdered in 2018, and now their suspected killers are to go on trial. This photograph was posted on BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Nick Bailey’s Twitter account just days before, where he praised the couple for their vast knowledge of indigenous plants. Picture: Supplied

Published May 12, 2022

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Durban - The trial of three people charged for kidnapping and murdering Cape Town-based British couple, Rodney and Dr Rachel Mary Saunders, will begin on Monday in the Durban High Court.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Natasha Ramkissoon-Kara, the trial will run from May 16 to June 17.

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Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife, Bibi Fatima Patel, 28 and a Malawian national, Mussa Ahmed Jackson, 35, were charged with kidnapping, robbery and murder of the Saunders in February 2018 in the Eshowe area.

Sayefudeen Del Vecchio is led into the Verulam Magistrate's Court. Before appearing, he changed his top and entered the courtroom with a cloth bag slung over his shoulder, which appeared to contain a copy of the Quran. Picture: ANA

The trio also face theft charges.

Both Del Vecchio and his wife Patel are from the Endlovini area, in Eshowe, while Jackson is from Bonela informal settlement, in Durban.

Del Vecchio and Patel were arrested on February 15 in 2018. Jackson was apprehended on March 23, 2018.

Ramkissoon-Kara said the slain couple had dual citizenship for both SA and the UK.

A fourth suspect, who was also implicated in the case, Themba Xulu, turned state witness. He was arrested on February 26 that year, after he was found in possession of the victim’s cell phones.

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Xulu entered into a plea agreement with the state.

The NPA’s indictment against the trio suggests that they allegedly killed Rodney and Dr Rachel Saunders at or near the Ngoye forest area in the magisterial district of Eshowe between February 10 and 15, 2018.

It also said the accused stole R734 000 from the Saunders.

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“Del Vecchio is further charged with Malicious Injury to Property for the damage caused to sugar cane fields belonging to Tongaat Hulett in September 2017. The damage caused the company a loss of approximately R2.3 million,” Ramkissoon-Kara said.

IOL

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