DNA results on a body found on the banks of the Tugela River have positively identified it as that of missing botanist Rodney Saunders (74), Zululand Observer reports.
The search for the body of his wife, Rachael (63) continues.
According to the Hawks, the body was discovered by a local fisherman on the 17 February, a day after Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio (37) and Bibi Fatima Patel (27) – who have been since charged with kidnapping and two counts of murder – were arrested at their homestead in the Endlovini area of Ngoye.
A third and fourth suspect were also arrested in conjunction with the disappearance of the Cape Town-Briton botanists, Thembamandla Xulu (19) and Malawian national, Ahmad Jackson Mussa (36).
Xulu, who lived with the ISIS-linked pair of Del Vecchio and Patel, was found in possession of the Saunders’s cellphones while the Hawks launched a manhunt for Mussa, who was believed to have had key information into the case itself.
Mussa was arrested in Durban last month and led police to an area close to the Tugela River Mouth, where he pointed out where Rodney and Rachael’s bodies had been dumped.
The four accused appeared in the Verulam Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday), where the court heard that Xulu had entered into plea negotiations with the state.
The group face charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances two counts of murder and possession of stolen property.
Additionally, Del Vecchio – who originates from Mozambique – and Patel, face charges of arson and possession of a terror group flag.
The bail application for Del Vecchio and Patel is expected to be heard on May 10.