Body of second allegedly kidnapped Briton found in KZN

2018-06-14 16:13
Nick Bailey, a presenter on the BBC show Gardeners' World, with Rod and Rachel Saunders. (Twitter)

Nick Bailey, a presenter on the BBC show Gardeners' World, with Rod and Rachel Saunders. (Twitter)

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Police have identified the body of a British woman they believe was kidnapped along with her husband by alleged jihadists who are accused of raising an Islamic State flag.

Renowned botanists Rachel Saunders, 63, and Rodney Saunders, 74, were last confirmed alive in KwaZulu-Natal province around February 10 after they went on a trip to look for rare seeds.

"A multi-pronged investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation and the South African Police Service's Forensic Science Laboratory... led to the positive identification of the mortal remains of Rachel Saunders," said captain Lloyd Ramovha of the elite Hawks investigative unit in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Rodney Saunders' body was found by fishermen on February 17 in the Tugela river in the province and was positively identified several weeks later.

READ: Body of Briton Rodney Saunders identified after couple go missing in SA

Police gave no details of where Rachel Saunders' body was found.

Four suspects alleged to have been behind the couple's kidnapping were arrested following a manhunt across the province.

Sayfydeen Del Vecchio, 38, and Fatima Patel, 27, were arrested in a raid on their house on February 16.

They are alleged to have hoisted an Islamic State flag in a reserve in the region where the Saunders disappeared.

Themba Xulu, 19, was arrested when he was found in possession of the victims' mobile phones. The fourth suspect is Malawian national Ahmad Mussa, 36.

Xulu subsequently struck a plea bargain with prosecutors and was sentenced to a suspended three-year sentence for having the Saunders' mobile phones in his possession.

The other three accused remain in custody and are due to appear at Verulam Magistrate's Court on August 24 to face charges including kidnapping, murder and robbery.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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