EXCLUSIVE: Body could be that of missing botanist

Rod and Rachael Saunders,botanists from Cape Town, are believed to have been abducted in the Ngoye Forest Reserve on 10 February - PHOTO: Supplied

POLICE are awaiting DNA test results for the body of a man which washed up on the banks of the Tugela River.

The body could possibly be that of Rodney Saunders (74) who, together with his wife Rachael (63), are believed to have been murdered and had their bodies dumped in the river.

Reports indicate that on 28 February at about 5am the badly decomposed body of a man was found by a local fisherman about 500 metres from the Tugela River Mouth.

Someone close to the investigation revealed that the body had to be bagged and tagged as quickly as possible because members of the public were lurking.

‘The body was badly decomposed but there was still some flesh left on it.

ALSO READ: Chances of finding couple’s bodies are slim

‘The left foot was missing and all the internal organs, including the stomach were also missing.

‘Crabs were eating the body,’ said the source.

It is understood the body could have washed up quite some time before, as the river had overflowed and the area in which it was found was not accessible.

The ZO broke the story of the Cape Town-based British couple, Rod and Rachael Saunders, who went missing from the Ngoye Forest Reserve on 10 February.

The arrest of Ahmad Jackson Mussa (36), known commonly by his alias ”Bazooka’, meant a breakthrough in the case, which has been headed up by the Hawks.

Mussa, a Malawian national, was arrested during a sting operation in Newlands on 22 March and is reported to have confessed to killing the elderly couple before stuffing their bodies into sleeping bags and throwing them into the Tugela River.

ALSO READ: BREAKING: Isis-linked suspect leads police to where missing couple’s bodies were dumped

SAPS and the Hawks escorted him to the river the following day where he pointed out the area in which their bodies had been dumped.

He will appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Thursday facing two counts of murder.

His co-accused, Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio (38), Bibi Fatima Patel (27) and Thambamandla Xulu (19) will appear together with Mussa.

Del Vecchio and Patel, believed to have orchestrated the abduction of Rod and Rachael, are being charged with kidnapping, theft and assault with aggravated circumstances.

Xulu, who lived with Del Vecchio and Patel in Endlovini, near the Ngoye Forest Reserve, is facing the same charges as the alleged ISIS-linked couple.

Del Vecchio and Patel are also facing terrorism charges for allegedly collecting and displaying an ISIS flag during the period of the alleged kidnapping.

The charge sheet indicates that Del Vecchio faces a second terrorism charge where he ‘unlawfully solicited or provided support for a terrorist organisation…namely ISIL or ISIS’ between 2015 and 2017.

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  AUTHOR
Orrin Singh

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