Businessman Omar Carrim has been reunited with his family.
Johannesburg - Late on Monday night a kidnapping drama that had lasted 137 days came to an end when a passing police vehicle found a frail Omar Carrim.

The 76-year-old Carrim was allegedly dropped off blindfolded near a petrol station in Olifantsfontein at about 10.30pm that evening.

But now that Carrim is back with his family police are continuing their hunt for his kidnappers and sources have told the Saturday Star that they suspect that Mozambican syndicates could have a hand in some local incidents.

Five days after he was freed, Carrim’s family and law enforcement are tight-lipped about the details of his captivity and his release.

The family would not confirm or deny whether they paid a ransom for the Laudium businessman’s release.

Carrim’s son Abdullah, said: “My dad is traumatised. But he is getting all the medical and expert care. It has been a difficult 137 days. It’s going to take time to heal.

“We are just relieved he is back with us. Please give us the time and space and the privacy my father needs.”

Carrim was taken by a group of unknown men on August 3 shortly after leaving his business, Home Hyper City. Police later found his burnt-out Mercedes-Benz.

This kidnapping followed a spate of similar crimes in South Africa and Mozambique, where Muslim family members or businessmen have been targeted.

Read: Kidnapped Pretoria businessman reunited with family

Community activist and anti-crime campaigner, Yusuf Abramjee, said recently that the motive behind the kidnappings was ransom.

“These gangs try and extort millions and millions of rand from the victims and their families.

“They are clearly daring.

"They don’t take their victims for joy rides. They are after cash,” he said.

However, Abramjee would not comment on suggestions that international syndicates were involved in Carrim’s kidnapping.

“Give the police time to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

The modus operandi is similar. The gangs demand up to $3 million (R37.84m). They want the money to be paid in foreign countries.

Cape Town businessman, Zhaun Ahmed, who was kidnapped and released some three months later denied paying any ransom after being released. He claimed it was a case of mistaken identity.

However, it is believed that Ahmed did pay a ransom.

Read: 'Zhaun's safe return cost family R20m'

Speaking on 567 Cape Talk, Abramjee said: “I’ve also heard he paid a ransom running into millions of rand.”

“These gangs are sophisticated and highly organised. They might run but they cannot hide. Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something. They must come forward and share the information,” said Abramjee.

Investigating kidnappings is a challenge for law enforcement agencies. Former police negotiator and lecturer Marcel van der Watt said investigating kidnappings could be tricky.

“Kidnappings, generally, can be very complex because on one side you have the criminals you need to pursue, and on the other side there is an intrinsic risk in how you go about approaching a very, very volatile situation,” he said.

Van der Watt did, however, say that the SAPS does have the capacity and technical expertise to catch sophisticated kidnapping groups.

The spate of kidnappings has already struck fear in some Muslim communities. One businessman said he had taken “additional security measures for (me) and (my) family, because we are scared we will be targeted".

Many victims and their families left Mozambique after a spate of kidnappings in that country.

Some were kidnapped in South Africa, giving rise to suspicion that the same gangs were involved.

This week, Kabelo Kobo, from Soshanguve was shot dead during a robbery in Tzaneen, Limpopo.

He was one of three men accused of kidnapping Anisah Moosa (36), of Nirvana, Polokwane, last year. The gang demanded R3m to release her.

Police freed her after a shoot-out with the kidnappers which also saw two police officers wounded.

Kobo was released on bail and he was linked to other robberies and cash-in-transit heists.

The other men are still in custody.

Abramjee said he believed this “is a local gang not linked to other major kidnappings in South Africa".

“We also have smaller copycat kidnapping syndicates that are operating. They also targeted Zimbabwean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals living in South Africa.”

Saturday Star