Terror accused ‘affectionate’ in court

Fatima Patel, the common-law wife of Aslam Del Vecchio, raises a single index finger in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, where she appeared on terror-related charges
Fatima Patel, the common-law wife of Aslam Del Vecchio, raises a single index finger in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, where she appeared on terror-related charges
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Alleged Islamic State (IS) loyalists Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, and his wife Fatima Patel, 28, were asked to respect the court as they shared moments of affection and banter during their appearance on Tuesday.

The couple, who appeared with co-accused Ahmad Jackson Mussa, 35, were warned by legal aid attorney Mondli Mthethwa to stop their display of affection as it might be perceived as disrespectful to the court and sitting magistrate.

During their appearance in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, prosecutor Torie Pretorius handed over a provisional indictment to the magistrate.

He said the national director of public prosecutions needed to go over it and authorise prosecution because of the nature of the charges brought against the three.

The provisional charge sheet details how they were allegedly involved in the kidnapping and murder of Cape Town-based British botanists Rodney and Rachel Saunders and how they used Rachel Saunders’ bank card to make various purchases.

Books relating to IS were also found in their possession.

Mthethwa told magistrate Irfan Khalil that Patel’s Arabic Koran had been confiscated by prison officials.

He said his clients also complained that during their trip from the Ebongweni C-Max prison in Kokstad, they were shackled.

That made it difficult for them to keep their balance in the back of the prison van.

Also at the court, which had heavily armed police on duty, was Farhad Hoomer, the alleged mastermind behind a Verulam mosque attack in May 2018, as well as firebomb attacks at retail outlets thereafter.

Hoomer, together with 11 other men, appeared on terrorism charges.

Mussa will be back in court on May 23 for a formal bail application, and will be accompanied by Del Vecchio and Patel.

The three will be back in court together on August 19.

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