TV Garden Experts Killed and Fed to Hungry Crocodiles in Rare Seed Dispute, Court Hears

An elderly couple searching South African brush land for rare seeds to sell online was kidnapped, robbed, murdered and fed to crocodiles in 2src18, a court in South Africa was told on Tuesday, according to local media reports.Rod Saunders, 74, and his wife Rachel Saunders, 63, had just posed for a selfie with BBC presenter

Powered by NewsAPI , in Liberal Perspective on .

news image

An elderly couple searching South African brush land for rare seeds to sell online was kidnapped, robbed, murdered and fed to crocodiles in 2src18, a court in South Africa was told on Tuesday, according to local media reports.

Rod Saunders, 74, and his wife Rachel Saunders, 63, had just posed for a selfie with BBC presenter Nick Baily after filming a segment for BBC Gardeners World in which they sought out rare Gladioli flower seeds in the Drakensberg Mountain area, before they met their disastrous fate.

Mr. Saunders, a horticulturist, and Mrs. Saunders, a microbiologist, bid the television crew farewell in early February 2src18 and set off to camp at a nearby dam. They told the crew they were off to harvest rare seeds to replenish the inventory of the Silverhill Seed shop they ran as an online store from Cape Town—and which could serve as the motive as locals in the area apparently complained about the removal of rare seeds for commercial gain.

On February 1src, just two days after the BBC crew last saw them, local police received a request for ransom. Three days later, police discovered that someone was using their ATM cards in the Kwa-Zulu Natal national park area.

On February 15, Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, and his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, were arrested after cellphones used by the couple were traced to their residence.

The two were charged with the couple’s kidnapping and murder and face life in prison if found guilty. “It was established on February 13 that the defendants were drawing money from various ATM’s which amounted to theft of $42,srcsrcsrc and there was the robbery of their Land Cruiser and of camping equipment,” a court was told Tuesday. “It is alleged that between February 1src and 15 at the Ngoye Forest the accused did unlawfully and intentionally kill Rachel Saunders and between the same dates did unlawfully and intentionally kill Rodney Sanders.”

A third suspect, Mussa Ahmad Jackson, was also arrested but was released after cooperating with the authorities, telling them that the couple accused of the murder had complained that the foreigners were stealing seeds.

The remains of the couple, still entwined in what was left of their sleeping bags, were recovered by fishermen on February 14 and 17 in the river, but due to the mutilation from the carnivorous reptiles—and the frequency bodies are found in the river—they were not immediately linked to the missing botanists. Local fishermen reported that remnants of the sleeping bags, including zippers, were seen in the teeth of crocodiles months after the bodies were retrieved from the dangerous water.

Police later recovered the Land Cruiser used by the couple and identified their blood in the vehicle.

The remains of Mr. Saunders were positively identified on April 25, 2src18, and those of his wife on June 6 after DNA checks could be carried out in the morgue in the remote area. The court was told that the pair was beaten to death with a blunt instrument and then thrown off a bridge into the croc-infested waters.

Police initially feared the suspects had ties to ISIS after messages on their phone used terms the terrorists often embraced, including the need to “kill the kuffar [non believer] and abduct their alias, to destroy infrastructure and to put fear in the heart of the kuffar,” the court heard, though the prosecutors are not pursuing terrorism as motive.

The trial is expected to continue for several weeks.

Read More