21 June 2012
The South African government has expressed its joy following the release on Thursday of a South African couple held captive by Somali pirates since October 2010.
The Durban couple, Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz, were freed following negotiations between the South African, Somali and Italian governments.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation expressed its gratitude to both the Somali and Italian governments on Thurday.
It said the couple had been released unharmed and were receiving consular support from the South African mission to Somalia, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Arrangements are being made for the return of the couple to South Africa.
“South Africa’s ambassador designate to Somalia, Ndumiso Ntshinga, is in contact with the couple and the authorities in Somalia and has verified that the couple is in good health and eager to be re-united with their loved ones,” the department said in a statement.
Throughout the ordeal, the pirate ring demanded ransoms for the couple’s release, initially demanding US$10-million from the families of the couple. The ransom dropped to $500 000 in March last year.
The couple were taken hostage off the Gulf of Aden in October 2010 after armed pirates hijacked their yacht as it was about to enter the Mozambique channel south of Dar es Salaam. A third crew member was rescued by the European Union’s anti-piracy taskforce.