Escape bid by ISIS-linked suspects who killed British tourists is thwarted in South Africa
A gang of three linked to the terror group ISIS and accused of the kidnap and murder of two British botanists in South Africa have had a daring escape bid thwarted by cops.
Sayfudeen Del Vecchio, 38, his wife Fatima Patel, 27, and Ahmad “Bazooka” Mussa planned to overpower cops as they appeared in court and then brutally shoot their way out to freedom.
Rod Saunders, 73, and wife Rachel, 64, were snatched in February as they searched remote mountains for rare flower seeds which they sold worldwide in their internet business.
They were brutally murdered and their bodies wrapped in sleeping bags and dumped in a crocodile-infested river in Kwa-Zulu Natal and they were missing for several months.
Their bank accounts had been drained of tens of thousands of pounds before they had vanished.
However both their badly decomposed bodies were found when cops who could find no trace of them ordered samples from any unidentified bodies in local mortuaries to be DNA tested.
The body of British born Rod was identified in April and that of wife Rachel who has dual British and South African nationality was identified in June and three are charged with murder.
Both bodies had been retrieved from a river but were so badly decomposed had remained unidentified.
Yesterday Sayfudeen Del Vecchio, 38, his wife Fatima Patel, 27, and Ahmad “Bazooka”Mussa, 36, were hauled before magistrates clapped in heavy leg irons and handcuffs.
Verulam Magistrates Court in Kwa-Zulu Natal was told that police had uncovered an amazing plot in which the alleged terrorists would overpower cops in court and shoot their way out.
The state insists that the three are loyal to the international terror group ISIS and had been in the process of planning attacks on South African soil when they stumbled on the married couple.
They were kidnapped in the remote Ngoye Forest Reserve 80 miles north of Durban on February 10 as they searched for rare seeds for their business Silverhill Seeds based in Cape Town.
Just days before they vanished they had finished filming in the Drakensberg Mountains with award winning BBC Gardeners World host Nick Bailey who posted a photo of them on Twitter.
Their alleged killers were caught in a series of swoops by South African elite police unit The Hawks and mobile phone messages between them linked to them to terror group ISIS.
Magistrate Irfan Khalil was surprised when he saw the three suspects brought into the court in shackles and surrounded by prison staff and armed police officers and placed in the dock.
He was told there was a “credible threat” of a bold prison break that may involve others.
According to a statement penned by Investigating Officer Anuresh AJ Lutchman he said he had received information from an informant laying bare their plans for the alleged breakout.
The court heard: “I received information from a credible source that the accused would try and escape while appearing in court and the accused might try and attack court staff and escape.
“The accused were to disarm the policemen in the courtroom and use their firearms to make good their escape. The informer had been proved credible in previous instances” he told the court.
Defending Mondli Mthethwa‚ for the three‚ insisted that they were all innocent until proven guilty and the leg shackles and cuffs would infringe on their opportunity for a fair trial.