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Somalia: Abducted Durban cruising couple calls family

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 20, 2011 08:50 PM

Published: 2011-10-20 20:50:13
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Somalia , South Africa

As reported by IOL News

October 20 2011 at 09:24am
By Rizwana Sheik Umar

The Somali pirates holding Durban couple Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz hostage, allowed them to make a call home so that the conversation could be recorded and sent to CNN and the BBC. The Tuesday night call to Pelizzari’s sister, Vera Hecht, was an attempt to accelerate the fundraising appeal for the ransom, Hecht said.

She said “Ali”, the man she has been receiving calls from since her brother was abducted, called her and told her that he wanted her to record a conversation with Bruno, 52, and Calitz, 49, to help raise funds for their release.

The pirates are asking for $4 million (R32m) for the couple’s release.

Next week, Wednesday, will mark exactly one year since the couple from the Bluff, who were working on board the SY Choizil, were taken hostage by Somali pirates as they were about to enter the Madagascar/Mozambique Channel. Peter Eldridge, who refused to leave the yacht, was rescued by EU naval forces off the coast of Somalia on November 6.

Hecht said she was only allowed to speak to each of them for about three minutes. “Bruno said they were hungry but okay. He said they were given soup in the mornings and pasta or rice at night.” Hecht said Calitz asked in desperation: “Vera is there any chance we are going to get out of here?” Calitz told Vera that their hair was falling out and asked Vera to tell her children she loved them, before Ali, who was listening in on the conversation, interrupted them.

“Before Debbie left, I quickly managed to slip in that Peter (Eldridge) was alive.” Hecht said when the couple were taken off the yacht, they were taken to the beach while the pirates returned to the yacht to get Eldridge. “The pirates shot the inside of the cabin and when Debbie and Bruno heard the gunfire, they thought Eldridge was killed.”

In August the families of the couple set up a trust fund to raise the $4m ransom for their release. Hecht said fundraising was going slowly. For details, go to the website or the Facebook page – sosbrunodebbie.