A British couple was brutally murdered by a South African gang, and their bodies were thrown into a river to be eaten by crocodiles, a court has heard.

Botanists Rod Saunders, 74, and Rachel Saunders, 63, were killed four years ago when they were on one of their trips to the Drakensberg Mountains in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Rod Saunders, a British citizen, had been married to Rachel Saunders for more than 30 years. The couple used to spend months in remote regions searching for wild seeds for their seed business in Cape Town.

They left their house in Cape Town to meet a BBC crew on February 5, 2018.

They were killed shortly after being interviewed for an episode of "BBC Gardeners' World." Their pictures with the show's host, Nick Bailey, are believed to be the last photographs of them alive. According to a report in The Telegraph, the elderly couple was beaten to death and their bodies were thrown into a river infested with crocodiles.

The police arrested Sayefundeen Aslam Del Vecchio, 39, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, 28, and their lodger at the time, Mussa Ahmad Jackson, 35, in connection with their murder.

All of them denied charges of kidnapping, murder, robbery, and theft at the Durban High Court.

"Del Vecchio in the Land Cruiser and Patel and Jackson followed to the Tugela River Bridge, where they helped him remove sleeping bags from the back of the Toyota and they threw them with human bodies inside into the river," Jackson said in a statement.

The police recovered a number of items that the accused bought using Rod Saunders's bank card. They even found receipts for these payments in Bibi Patel's bag.

The couple's highly decomposed and partially-eaten bodies were found days later by local fishermen. But their bodies were only identified after authorities ordered DNA tests of all unidentified or unclaimed bodies in morgues.

It is being reported that the couple were killed between February 10 and 15 in the Ngoye Forest four years ago. The trial in the case is still underway.

Crime Scene
Crime scene police line | Representational Image Photo: GETTY IMAGES / SCOTT OLSON GETTY IMAGES/SCOTT OLSON