State to reveal evidence in case of suspected Isis trio

14 February 2020 - 13:48 By Orrin Singh
Alleged Isis acolytes Fatima Patel, Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio and Ahmad 'Bazooka' Mussa are accused of murdering botanists Rod and Rachel Saunders.
Alleged Isis acolytes Fatima Patel, Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio and Ahmad 'Bazooka' Mussa are accused of murdering botanists Rod and Rachel Saunders.
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

The state is gearing up to reveal evidence collated against three alleged Isis affiliates, accused of the 2018 murder of two elderly botanists. 

Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio‚ his wife Fatima Patel and their Malawian boarder, Ahmad “Bazooka” Mussa, briefly appeared before magistrate Irfaan Khalil in the Verulam family court on Friday. 

The trio have been charged with the kidnapping and murder of British-born Cape Town botanists Rod and Rachel Saunders.

The elderly botanists are understood to have been murdered in February 2018.

Senior state prosecutor Mahen Naidu said they were still awaiting an indictment as the matter looked set to proceed to pre-trial. 

"The matter has been adjourned to March 4 for indictments to be served on all three accused.

"On the day we will provide the accused's defence with a copy of all the evidence gathered against them in the matter," said Naidu.

The accused recently acquired the services of a renowned legal brain, advocate Jimmy Howse, after abandoning legal aid. 

The defence is still considering whether it will go ahead with a bail application for Mussa. 

The accused also face charges of theft and counts relating to the contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terror and Related Activities Act.

They were arrested following the disappearance of the Saunders couple, who had been touring northern KwaZulu-Natal in search of rare plants and seeds.

Less than a week after the elderly botanists went missing, police pounced on Del Vecchio's hilltop camp in the foothills of the Endlonvini area, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Police allege that Del Vecchio had planned and executed the killings.

All three accused were initially detained at Durban's Westville prison. Del Vecchio and Mussa were later transferred to Ebongweni maximum security prison in Kokstad after prison officials claimed they had uncovered a plot which would jeopardise the facility.


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