2 SA citizens captive in Somalia since Oct 26
11 January 2011 Leave a comment
Two SA yacht crew members Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz of Durban are said to be ‘safe’ in Mogadishu after “misunderstanding with Somali pirates with a religious agenda’…
- Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz crew of SA yacht Choizil – captives of Somali pirates since Oct 26 2010
Jan 10 2011 – Peter Eldridge, skipper of the yacht Choizil, has described his ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates who seized his yacht and kidnapped his crewmates, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, to Dutch police and court officials. It has also been reported that the captured Durban couple, after a ‘misunderstanding with Somali pirates with a religious agenda’ , are said to be ‘safe’ in Mogadishu while South African authorities are negotiating for their release. The couple have no money.
“The most important thing now is to get Bruno and Debbie back safely,’ said SA yachtsman Peter Eldridge after testifying at the trial of five captured Somali pirates in The Netherlands this week…http://www.farmitracker.com/reports/view/934
Richards Bay yachtsman Peter Eldridge, owner of the yacht Choizil, was exhausted after returning from the Netherlands, where he was interviewed by police and court officials on his hijacking by Somali pirates near Tanzania on Oct 26 2010, reported Bronwyn Gerretsen. Mr Eldridge’s yacht was pirated on the high seas near Tanzania by AK47-wielding pirates on October 26. He, along with his crew, Durban couple Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, were held hostage for 13 days before the yacht ws run aground. Eldridge was left on the yacht after he refused to disembark, but Pelizzari and Ms Calitz were taken hostage. Five Somali pirates – among those who hijacked Eldridge – were arrested by the anti-piracy task force and put on trial in the Netherlands law courts. Eldridge was returned to Richard’s Bay by a Dutch warship after his ordeal, and last week was flown to the Netherlands to testify. He was first interviewed by Dutch police, to whom he related details of the incident. He also looked at photographs of the accused Somali men and identified some as being among the armed pirates who had hijacked the Choizil. “I then went before the magistrate and said virtually the same things, and was then asked questions by the lawyers.”Eldridge said he did not believe that he would have to return to the Netherlands for the trial. He said that giving evidence there and knowing that some of the men had been arrested had not helped him in dealing with the trauma of the incident. “It is probably something I will never get over… The most important thing now is to get Bruno and Debbie back safely,” he said. – The Mercury http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/skipper-describes-hijacking-to-cops-1.1009939
And it is also reported by Sail World that ‘while South African authorities have not yet heard from the Somali pirates who kidnapped two South African cruising sailor over a month ago they believe that the two are alive.”
- According to Sail World’s well-placed source, Andrew Mwangura in Kenya, and whose links with the piracy-industry in Somalia have in the past were said to be ‘extremely accurate’, the abducted couple Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were moved to Mogadishu.
Islamic pirate-group with a religious agenda had a ‘misunderstanding over the captured SA couple’…
“This followed a ‘misunderstanding’ between their captors and an Islamic pirate group which has a religious agenda. ‘They (the gunmen) are now talking to find a solution,’ Mwangura said. South African International Relations spokesman Saul Kgomotso Molobi said yesterday that ‘the kidnappers had not made contact with the South African government nor with the relatives of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner, Deborah Calitz. ‘They have not sent any ransom demands so we don’t know what they want,’ he said. However, Molobi said hope for the couple’s safe return has not faded, as pirates sometimes took a long time to make ransom demands. ‘We believe they are alive. “
- ‘ SA has not interfered with Somalia by sending in soldiers ‘ – SA spokesman Saul Molobi – “ South Africa has not interfered with Somalia by sending military to that country, so we are taking this as a good sign that hostages from South Africa will not be harmed. In one incident, pirates made a ransom demand four weeks after the kidnapping so there’s no reason to lose hope.’ http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/Hope–for-kidnapped-South-African-cruising-sailors/77547
Details of Yacht Choizil’s attack by pirates near Tanzania coast:
In a blow by blow account of the traumatic hijacking off the Tanzanian coast on October 26, Peter Eldridge, 61, yesterday explained that he was prepared to sink his yacht, SY Choizil, if the pirates made it their ‘mother ship’ to rob other vessels. ‘I had made peace that … if they were going to go ahead with their plan to make it their mother ship, I was prepared to sink with my yacht and the pirates,’ he said.
Eldridge refused to leave his yacht when the pirates finally took his crew, Durban couple Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz who lived in Dar-Es-Salaam, hostage on November 7. Prelizzari and Calitz are still in the hands of their captors.
Eldridge, an experienced yachtsman, had lived on his yacht on the coast of Dar-es- Salaam for several years. ‘I decided to sail to Richards Bay in November because it was a good time to sail. I approached Bruno and Debbie to be my crew and they agreed because this would allow them to visit their families back home,’ Eldridge said at the Zululand Yacht Club this week. He said the issue of piracy was fully discussed in Dar-es-Salaam before they set sail in October. ‘We believed that in the likely event of being attacked, we would be robbed and then the pirates would leave us,’ he said.
On October 26, 160km from the Tanzanian coast, two motorboats pulled up on either side of the yacht. He was quickly able to send out a mayday signal. Twelve pirates, armed with AK47 guns and RPG rockets, boarded the yacht. ‘Communication was poor but they demanded the satellite radio and any cellphones we had. They disconnected the fixed radio and removed it.’ The three were held at gunpoint while the vessel was searched.
‘All the presents that Bruno and Debbie had bought for family back home and their money were found. When they came back we repeatedly told them we didn’t have any money and that we were South African,’ he said. The pirates stayed on the yacht while a mother-ship carrying drums of fuel delivered food and tea to them. On November 7, the pirates spotted a French warship on the horizon. ‘There were two boats. One was from Amsterdam. Their helicopters were hovering overhead. The pirates then began firing at the warship with their AK47s and launched rockets.’ He was told to contact the French vessel. Eldridge was able to inform them over the radio that there were eight pirates on board. ‘Afterwards, the pirates made us sit on the side of the yacht, facing the warship. They had guns to our heads,’ he said. The pirates motored the yacht until the motor seized and it ws run aground on the Somali coast. The couple were forced ashore but Eldridge refused to leave. ‘One of the pirates came back,’ he said. ‘He ripped the microphone from the radio and started beating me. I refused to go. I lodged myself so he couldn’t pull me out. He then discharged his weapon. I was uninjured. He then left.‘ Eldridge made contact with the warship again and was rescued. http://www.sail-world.com/Cruising/international/I-would-have-gone-down-with-my-yacht.-Pirate-sailor-victim-tells/76978
NAIROBI, Kenya – Pirates near Somalia attacked and took command of a private South African yacht that later fired on French naval forces. The yacht’s South African skipper escaped captivity, but the pirates took two crew members hostage onto land, the EU Naval Force said Monday. The pirates overtook the private yacht with three South African people on board near the Tanzanian coastline – where piracy had not been a problem before this incident, the European Union’s anti-piracy force said. A French warship, the FS Floreal, followed the yacht and when a task-force team approached the vessel shots were fired. The yacht was run aground on Sunday near Somalia and the EU Naval Force said the South African captain, (Peter Eldridge of Richards Bay) then adamantly refused to leave the yacht. The pirates then took the two crew members, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborath Calitz, hostage and went ashore. A naval force helicopter searched for them but could not locate them, the EU Naval Force said.A spokesman, Lt. Col. Per Klingvall, said the incident appears similar to the case of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple taken hostage by Somali pirates while sailing their private boat off East Africa in October 2009. And this financially not well-off couple are still being held hostage – seperately in tents – in Somalia.Despite patrols by an international flotilla of warships, Somali pirates continue to attack and hijack ships moving through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off East Africa. Its a very lucrative industry: multimillion dollar ransoms are being paid to release the ships and crew, and these paid ransoms fuel even more attacks. Meanwhile, the EU Naval Force said Monday that one of its warships was attacked off Somalia by a PIRATED SHIP – the MV Izumi. It was captured in October. The force said the pirate attack was “foiled without injury or damage” with minimal use of force so as not to endanger any hostages on the Izumi.