westbury human remains found on cape town beach

File photo

Missing British botanist’s body positively identified

The 63-year-old went missing, along with her husband, in February.

westbury human remains found on cape town beach

File photo

The Hawks have confirmed that the body believed to be that of Cape Town-based British botanist, Rachel Saunders was, indeed, hers.

A case of kidnapping was investigated by police in February, following her disappearance – along with her 75-year-old husband, Rodney – which led to the arrest of Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio, Fatima Patel, Jackson Ahmad Mussa and Thembamandla Kwanele Xulu in March.

Rodney’s body was positively identified in April after it was discovered on 17 February in the banks of the Tugela river in KwaZulu-Natal and, as eNCA reports, the youngest of the four suspects, 19-year-old Xulu entered into a plea bargain with the state.

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Following an extensive search around mortuaries, Rachel’s body was identified when one of the unidentified bodies turned out to be hers.

“Xulu subsequently entered into a plea bargain with the state in terms of Section 105A of the Criminal Procedure Act, and he was convicted and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years for illegal possession of stolen property,” Hawks spokesperson, Lloyd Ramovha said.

“The other three accused remain in custody, and they are expected to appear at the Verulam magistrate’s court on 24 August to face a raft of charges including; kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances two counts of murder, possession of stolen property.”

The teenager was arrested after the couple’s cellphones were found in his possession and is still due to appear in court again on 24 August on murder, kidnapping and robbery charges.

Following the couple’s disappearance, over R700 000 was reportedly drained from their bank accounts, and their car was found with blood marks.

According to reports, the couple were placed into sleeping bags before they were thrown into the river.

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