Trio exchanged chilling text messages before allegedly killing couple and feeding them to crocodiles
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A court in South Africa has heard the chilling text messages sent by the trio accused of killing two British botanists, whose remains were partially eaten by crocodiles.
Dr Rachel Saunders, 63, and her husband Rod, 74, were killed before being wrapped in sleeping bags and thrown into a river, which was inhabited by crocodiles.
Aslam Del Vecchio, 41, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 31, and Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 37, have been charged with their murders as well as being accused of kidnap, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and theft.
Prosecutors told the court the trio, who are reported to have links with ISIS, had gone on a £37,000 spending spree with credit cards stolen from the couple.
The three defendants deny the charges.
Durban High Court was told: “Around February 10 the investigating officer received information that Rodney Saunders and his wife Dr Rachel Saunders had been kidnapped in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
“It was established on February 13 that the defendants were drawing money from ATMs which amounted to theft of R734,000 (£37,000) and there was the robbery of their Toyota Land Cruiser and camping gear.
“It is alleged that between February 10 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 Saunders.”
Text messages sent between the three references a ‘good hunt’ and ‘killing the kuffar’.
Others said the ‘elderly couple’ would be a ‘good hunt’.
The pathologist who carried out the autopsy on Dr Saunders’s body said it was ‘one of the most extreme cases’ he’d ever seen in his 40-year-old career.
He said: "I performed the autopsy and I was not sure as to whether it was a male or a female body given its advanced decomposed state and due to the crocodile injuries.
“She had been dismembered. There were missing limbs – the right arm and a leg was not there. The groin was totally eaten out and there was no breast tissue.
"There was no way to determine the gender. I also saw fractures on the skull, spine, neck, and ribcage. There was no hair. There were also multiple stab wounds.”
He was then asked by the prosecutor if the injuries may have come from ‘scavenger activity’, to which he replied: "The violent nature in which the body was dismembered suggests crocodiles may have fed on it. There were ragged bites all over the body.
“However the stab wounds were well defined about 2cm deep and the marks on her neck suggested strangulation and the cause of death is due to multiple injuries”