A Cape Town man who preyed on young girls and boys through social media was on Wednesday sentenced to 20 years behind bars by the Western Cape High Court.
Nizaam Ajam entered a plea and sentencing agreement after being charged with 148 counts of sex crimes against children.
These included rape, extortion, sexual grooming of children, creation of child pornography and the distribution of child pornography between 2012 and 2014.
Ajam used Facebook and message services such as Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp and Mxit to contact his victims, aged between 12 and 16.
On Facebook, he had fake profiles in which he claimed to be a minor and sent friend requests to young boys and girls, Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.
“After accepting his friend requests, the victims would chat and share information with him. The accused would then request the victims to take naked pictures of themselves and send them to him.
“After receiving these pictures, he would threaten to expose the naked pictures if they refused to send him more. In three instances, he lured three minor victims and raped them.”
Monitor internet use
He was sentenced to 235 years in total, but would spend an effective 20 years behind bars.
Ajam’s name would also be included on the national register of sex offenders.
State advocate Bonnie Currie–Gamwo, who secured the plea and sentencing agreement, encouraged parents and guardians to monitor their children’s internet use.
“One of the negatives of social networks and the easy access that our children have to them is that predators like Ajam are able to use them to target young unsuspecting children,” she said.
“The calculated manner in which he went about befriending these victims on Facebook, using fake Facebook profiles of a boy and girl, inducing them to send him naked pictures of them and blackmailing them with a threat to expose them if they refuse, makes him a danger to society.”
She emphasised the importance of warning children against interacting with strangers via social media.
“There are a lot of dangerous people lurking in the shadows who will pretend that they are young and start by making innocent suggestions which may end up with the victims being raped and murdered.”