Bail judgment reserved for Zululand teen in missing couple and terror cell case

06 March 2018 - 16:12 By Jeff Wicks
Image: Thinkstock

A 19-year-old Mthunzini scholar accused of playing a central role in the abduction of dual South African-British citizens Rod and Rachel Saunders will remain behind bars with judgment in his bid for bail being reserved on Tuesday.

Themba Xulu appeared alongside husband and wife Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio‚ 38‚ and Fatima Patel‚ 27‚ in the Verulam Magistrate’s court.

The trio are accused of engineering the disappearance of the prominent Cape Town-based botanists‚ who were last seen while touring the northern reaches of the province three weeks ago. According to papers before court‚ over and above the kidnapping and theft charges levelled against all three‚ Patel and Del Vecchio are alleged to have contravened the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act by hoisting an Islamic State flag at their home in the Ndlovini Reserve near Eshowe in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Del Vecchio faces a second count for his involvement in extremist web forums. He is “connected with terrorist activities by participating in extremist web forums that support ISIS [Islamic State] and offering to supply phone numbers and sim cards that are not traceable”‚ the charge sheet read.

Advocate Jay Naidoo‚ acting for Del Vecchio and Patel‚ told the court that he needed time to consult with his clients and was unprepared to commence with a formal bail application.

Xulu‚ via his legal aid attorney Mondli Mthethwa‚ had forged ahead with his bid for liberty.

The court had previously heard that Xulu was arrested in possession of a cell phone belonging to the Saunders‚ and later surrendered a second mobile phone which had also been stolen from the pair. It was using these phones‚ the state asserts‚ that mobile banking applications were used to drain R734‚000 from the elderly couple’s accounts.

Mthethwa said that his client was enrolled in high school‚ and that his continued detention would prejudice the teen.

Magistrate Vallaraman Kathuravaloo reserved judgment. The three are expected to return to court on March 22.