Two people in KZN court for allegedly kidnapping Cape couple


JOHANNESBURG, March 1 – Two people are expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, for allegedly kidnapping a couple in KwaZulu-Natal in a case allegedly linked to terrorism.

Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 38, and Fatima Patel, 27, are charged with theft, kidnapping, or robbery, as well as the possible contravention of the Protection Constitutional Democracy against Terrorists and Other Related Activities Act.

On February 26, a third person man was arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of Cape Town husband and wife botanists and business owners, Rachel Saunders, 64, and Rodney Saunders, 73, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks) said.

Hawks spokesperson, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, said that the 23-year-old man was arrested in the Endlovini area.

Ramovha said the couple was yet to be located.

“The suspect was charged with possession of stolen property and “he is also charged with the same charges as [Del Vecchio and Patel], which is kidnapping,” Ramovha said at the time.

Ramovha said they were initially set to appear in the Vryheid Magistrate’s Court, but that the appearance had been moved to Verulam (Tongaat area) on March 1.

The suspects are alleged to have kidnapped and assaulted the Saunders and stolen cash and their Land Cruiser “between 10 and 15 February” at or near Bivane Dam in the Vryheid area, according to the charge sheet.

The Saunders own Cape Town-based Silverhills Seeds and Books, which supplies indigenous seeds and books to local and international markets.

The terrorism charge the two accused face relates to the alleged collecting and displaying of an ISIS flag during the period of the alleged kidnapping.

According to the charge sheet, Del Vecchio faces a second terrorism charge where he “unlawfully solicited or provided support for a terrorist organisation…namely [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] ISIL or ISIS” between 2015 and 2017.

Del Vecchio is also being charged with “malicious injury to property” for setting alight a sugar cane field in September 2017 in uMdloti just outside Durban, which resulted in damage of over R2 million.

The Hawks had initially asked that the names and photos of the abducted couple not be published but told ANA that the request had fallen away.

– African News Agency (ANA)