Two South Africans, Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari, held hostage since 2010 have been released after spending almost two years in Somali pirate captivity.
IOL reported the yacht on which the pair were working was hijacked as it was about to enter the Mozambique Channel south of the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.
Defenceweb reported the yacht was the Choizil, captained by Peter Eldridge that had been hijacked 20 months ago. Eldridge had fought the pirates and had got away, while his crew, Calitz and Pelizzari, were taken. Speaking in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Bruno Pelizzari said:
“Today we are happy to get our freedom back.”
It was not clear whether a ransom had been paid. The South African government thanked Somalia and Italy for assisting with the freeing of the hostages. They were the only South Africans held by the Somali pirates who had originally demanded 10 million US dollars in ransom. When it was made clear to them that the families could not afford even a fraction of this, they dropped the ransom demand.
Pirates currently hold some 12 vessels and 198 hostages. The number of their attacks is down because of the presence of international navies from the Gulf of Aden in the north to the Mozambique Channel in the south, as well as patrols ranging all the way to India in the East.