The accused, who is 39 years old, is from Pakistan, according to South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda. He is suspected of kidnapping ten migrants on January 26, 2022.
The victims were travelling along the N1 highway from Musina when they were brought to a halt by the occupants of another vehicle.
“The victims were allegedly loaded into another vehicle and were transported to Polokwane where they were allegedly handed to [Azam] near the Peter Mokaba Stadium,” said Netshiunda.
An intelligence-driven operation led to Azam’s arrest in Centurion, Gauteng on Sunday, 6 February. He made his first appearance before the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 8 February before the matter was transferred to Polokwane.
The initial police investigation revealed that the accused made phone calls to the families of the victims and demanded ransom.
On Thursday, 10 February, Azam appeared before the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court. On the same day, the police raided a lodge in Bruma, Johannesburg and rescued the 10 victims. They were unharmed.
Azam was remanded in custody until 17 February – when he is expected to make a formal bail application.
Netshiunda said the police’s investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.