Alleged Isis loyalists asked to tone down the affection in court
Alleged Islamic State loyalists couple Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, and his wife Fatima Patel, 28, were asked to respect the court as they shared moments of affection and banter during their appearance on Tuesday.
The pair, who appeared with their co-accused Ahmad Jackson Mussa, 35, were warned by their legal aid attorney, Mondli Mthethwa, to stop their display of affection as it might be perceived as disrespectful to the court and sitting magistrate Irfan Khalil.
During their appearance at the Verulam magistrate's court, state prosecutor Torie Pretorius handed over a provisional indictment to the magistrate.
He said that the national director of public prosecution needed to go over it and authorise prosecution because of the nature of the charges brought against the trio.
The provisional indictment details how the trio were allegedly involved in the kidnapping and murder of Cape Town-based British botanists Rodney and Rachel Saunders and how they used Rachel Saunders' bank card to make various purchases.
Books relating to Islamic State were also found in their possession.
While Mussa appeared fidgety and nervous in the dock, Del Vecchio and Patel seemed relaxed and affectionate, with Del Vecchio smiling occasionally.
The trio via their attorney listed a number of grievances about their prison conditions. Mthethwa told the magistrate that Patel's Arabic Koran (a religious Muslim text) had been confiscated by prison officials.
He said also that his clients complained that during their trip from the Ebongweni C-Max prison in Kokstad, they were shackled, making it difficult for them to keep their balance in the back of the prison van.
Among the heavily armed police officials at the court was Farhad Hoomer, the alleged mastermind behind a Verulam mosque attack in May 2018, as well as a series of firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed.
Hoomer, together with 11 other men, appeared on Monday in connection with a string of terrorism-related charges as well as murder, attempted murder, arson, and extortion.
They were arrested in a co-ordinated Hawks raid on October 5.
Mussa will be back in court on May 23 for a formal bail application and will be accompanied by Del Vecchio and Patel at their insistence. The trio will be back in court together on August 19.