World-renowned British botanist and his wife beaten to death before being thrown to crocodiles  

Image of a crocodile.

World-renowned British botanist and his wife beaten to death before being thrown to crocodiles   Image: Rudi Hulshof

British botanist Rod Saunders and horticulturist Rachel were killed after they were attacked in South Africa while searching for rare seeds in the mountains.

A British couple, including a botanist and a horticulturist, was beaten to death before they were thrown by their killers to crocodiles.

During a trial into their murder on Wednesday, April 19, a High Court in Durban was informed that after they were killed, the accused then used their credit cards and spent £37,000.

Microbiologists Dr Rachel Saunders and horticulturist Rodney, who had been married for 30 years, were killed after they headed to the Ngoye Forest, where they were then targetted by gangs with alleged links to the ISIS militant group, as per the Mirror.  

The couple used to spend six months a year searching for rare Gladioli plant seeds in the remote South African mountains.  

The day they were attacked, they had left their home in Cape Town, on February 4, 2018, to meet a BBC TV documentary crew.

The Saunders then travelled 900 miles to the north of the country in the Drakensberg Mountains, where they filmed an episode for Gardeners World. 

They were interviewed by BBC presenter Nick Bailey, while searching for the rare seeds.  

The couple was then targetted by the gang after they left the BBC team and headed into the forest.  

The High Court in Durban has now accused three people of their “brutal robbery and murder”.

This includes Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 41, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 30, and Malawian Mussa Ahmed Jackson, 35. 

As per reports, “They are said to have put their bludgeoned bodies in sleeping bags and driven them to a bridge over a crocodile-infested river before throwing them off it”.  

The accused then used their credit cards across different ATMs and several shops. 

A statement by a doctor who examined the couples bodies said that there was evidence of “scavenger activity.” 

“The damage to the bodies suggests that something could have fed on them. For example a crocodile due to lost tissue in the arms, neck and chest. Once the bodies were pushed into the banks then dogs and rats could have fed on it”, the statement said.

It was also mentioned that the couple died due to “blunt trauma injury”.  

The court was informed that “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 ATM 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.”

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Written by

Imran Khan

A journalist, content professional, and former TEDx Speaker based in Tarragona (Spain), with a Master's in International Journalism (Cardiff, UK). Imran is an online reporter for The Euro Weekly News and covers international as well as Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at