Missing British botanists reportedly murdered and fed to crocodiles in South Africa

News & Politics

World-renowned British botanists Rod and Rachel Saunders were reportedly kidnapped, robbed, beaten to death, and then fed to crocodiles in South Africa, according to court documents.

The couple went missing in 2018 and were last seen at a campsite in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains, where they were searching for rare gladioli seeds to sell in their mail-order business, Silverhill Seeds. According to a report in the Times, recent court documents allege that the couple was kidnapped, robbed, and beaten to death before being fed to crocodiles in the Tugela River. Remains of the victims were reportedly discovered days later by fishermen, but could not be identified until DNA testing was carried out.

The gruesome attack occurred shortly after Rod, 74, and his wife Rachel, 63, were featured on the BBC’s “Gardeners’ World.” Photos of the couple with host Nick Bailey are said to be the last pictures taken of them before they disappeared.

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A court in Durban, South Africa, was told that the Saunderses were kidnapped on February 13, 2018, and “that the defendants were drawing money from various ATMs … and there was the robbery of the Saunders’ Land Cruiser and of camping equipment.”

Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, and Mussa Ahmad Jackson were arrested in connection with the kidnapping, robbery, and murder of the highly respected botanists. Jackson told the court that he was woken by Patel at their home and told to meet Del Vecchio at the Tugela River Bridge, “where they helped him remove sleeping bags from the back of the Toyota and they threw them, with human bodies inside, into the river.”

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