Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim File picture: Supplied

Pretoria - Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee has appealed to the kidnappers of Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim, 76, to release him immediately on "humanitarian" grounds.

Carrim was kidnapped on August 3 shortly after leaving his business, Home Hyper City, in Pretoria. He was travelling home to Laudium, Abramjee said on Sunday.

Carrim’s car was found burned out near Erasmia the following morning. A daily social media campaign with a day-count appealing to Omar’s kidnappers to release the victim had been launched, he said.

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“It’s day 81 (Sunday) and Omar Carrim is still in captivity. We pray for his safe return. The family is distraught. They have called on the public to join them and pray for their father’s release. We know uncle Omar is not well and they must set him free on humanitarian grounds,” Abramjee said.

A Carrim family member said: “All we need is prayers. We cannot comment further.”

Abramjee said organised crime syndicates were targeting wealthy businessmen. “The next big organised crime has hit South Africa - kidnappings. There has been a series of kidnappings over recent years and it appears to be escalating.

“What is worrying is that these syndicates are becoming more daring and they are clearly sophisticated. Kidnapping syndicates have been operating for some time, taking their victims and demanding ransoms running into tens of millions of rand," he said. 

Many of these gangs had been arrested. Others continued cropping up, targeting largely Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Zimbabwean, and Mozambican nationals living in South Africa.

“Many of the victims are forced to pay ransom locally. Other gangs demand payment in foreign countries making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to follow the trail,” Abramjee said.