Three alleged Islamic State accused did not appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court owing to “security risks” in transporting them from prison to court in view of last week’s General Elections.

Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio (39), his wife Fatima Patel (28) and Ahmad Jackson Mussa (35), are the accused. The state alleged that the trio kidnapped and murdered Cape Town-based British botanists, Rodney and Rachel Saunders in February last year.

The state contends that the three are loyal to the international terror group and had been in the process of planning terror attacks in South Africa. Prosecutor Torie Pretorius informed Magistrate Rajesh Parshotam that the accused did not appear due to security risks. “Due to the elections, there is a problem with security arrangements here,” he said.

Nondumiso Zulu from Legal Aid South Africa, told the court that a year had come and gone and it was not satisfactory that the state had not yet finalised its investigations.

Pretorius responded by noting that it was a “complex matter” that had strong international links. “We are dealing with terror financing which relates to Somalia and the Netherlands. Investigations need to follow a formal diplomatic route. That takes time and is beyond the control of investigators,” said Pretorius.

The court adjourned the matter to 14 May for the NPA to serve provisional indictments on the accused.

Meanwhile, Farhad Hoomer, the alleged mastermind behind the orchestrating of a Verulam mosque attack in May last year, as well as a series of firebomb attacks at mainly Woolworths outlets was in the public gallery last week.

Hoomer, and 11 other accused, appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court last Monday in connection with a string of terrorism-related charges as well as murder, attempted murder, arson and extortion. They were arrested in a co-ordinated Hawks raid last year.