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Year later, still no release for SA hostage couple

By Sue Richards last modified Feb 09, 2012 09:19 PM

Published: 2012-02-09 21:19:44
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Somalia , South Africa

As reported by

A fundraising event was held last week at the Bluff Yacht Club in Durban, which Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates, often visited. Bruno’s sister Vera Hecht, who was running the event said, “The fund raiser went very well, we made more than R10,000. There was a great turnout and it was very pleasant.”

The fundraiser was part of an SOS Campaign to raise the money needed to rescue Bruno and Debbie. The campaign has been given NPO (Non Profit Organisation) status, and is running a text donation service. ”The captor’s negotiator makes contact to get updates on the fund collections, and he is never impressed. We would never be able to reach $4 million – But we believe that a point will be reached that they will accept what we have, call it a day and finally release Bruno and Debbie,” said Vera.

The yacht they were aboard, the Choizil, set sail from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Richards Bay, South Africa for repairs, but was hijacked in the Madagascar / Mozambique Channel in October 2010. The yacht’s captain, Peter Eldridge, was also on board but managed to escape with the help of a nearby naval vessel. During the attack Bruno and Debbie were used as human shields and RPGs were fired.

Bruno, 52, is a father of two and was en route to see his new grandson, Calvin. Debbie, 49, is a mother of four and was also on the way to see her new grandson, Dominic. A second grandchild was born in September, and a third is on the way, neither of which she has any knowledge about. “We last spoke to Bruno and Debbie in October 2011 and unless I can indicate that we have a substantial growth in the funds I am not permitted to ask after their health. When I ask how they are, I am told that they are OK,” Vera said.

See previous reports on noonsite about this attack and kidnapping.

Somalia: Hijacked Yacht Skipper Safe, Crew taken Hostage (9 November 2010)
South African Sailors Held Hostage - Update (12 November 2010)
News of the South African Couple Held Hostage (31 January 2011)
Update on Kidnapped Sailors in Somalia (5 July 2011)
Somali pirates jailed in Netherlands for Choizil hijack (15 August 2011)