Suspected ISIS couple appears in KZN court

2018-03-01 14:30
The Hawks arrive at Verulam Magistrate's court where suspects linked to ISIS are appearing. (Kaveel Singh, News24, Twitter)

The Hawks arrive at Verulam Magistrate's court where suspects linked to ISIS are appearing. (Kaveel Singh, News24, Twitter)

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Durban - Two people accused of having links to terror group Islamic State (ISIS) and the kidnapping of a world renowned horticultural couple made a brief appearance in the Verulam Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 38, Fatima Patel, 27, appeared at the North Coast court alongside Mondli Mtethwa.

Del Vecchio and Patel face charges of contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

Mthethwa is accused of robbery, after being found with the couple's cellphone in his possession.

Rod and Rachel Saunders, who have both South African and British citizenship, were allegedly kidnapped at or near the Bivane Dam in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal, on February 12.

It is understood that the couple, who run a Cape Town-based seed company, had been in search of a rare flowering plant.

The alleged kidnapping has made news headlines in the UK, with several publications reporting that it is feared the couple have been kidnapped by ISIS members.

In court, 19-year-old Mthethwa complained about a lack of communication on the charges against him.

"I have been in custody and still do not know why I am here," he said.

Magistrate Valaramen Kathravaloo replied: "I have given the earliest possible date for this matter. You will appear again within seven days."

READ: Kidnapped British couple still not found

Del Vecchio appeared with a Qur'an in a bag and a thin white shirt, while a petite Patel appeared with her face covered.

The South African government has since written to the UK High Commission, requesting that it reviews its travel advisory.

Hawks spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha called on the public to assist with any information related to the case.

"The couple have not been found as yet. We appeal to the public to call 031 325 6045 with information."

The three were expected back in court on March 6.

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