Con artists plague brother of SA pirate hostage

2011-01-28 14:00

Con artists claiming to know the whereabouts of his sister are plaguing the brother of Deborah Calitz, the woman taken hostage by Somali pirates last year, he said today.

“Since the abduction we don’t know what to believe. We don’t know whether the people calling and claiming to be holding them are actually holding them,” said Dale van der Merwe.

“We haven’t spoken to Deborah and Bruno Pelizzari. There is so much misinformation and con-artists who want six and seven million. We really don’t know what to believe anymore,” he said.

Van der Merwe said he was scheduled to meet with the department of international relations and co-operation on Monday to discuss the matter.

Calitz, her partner Pelizzari and skipper Peter Eldridge were sailing to South Africa from Dar es Salaam to spend Christmas with friends and family when they were confronted by pirates off the coast of Tanzania on October 26.

Eldridge was able to escape after refusing to leave the yacht, but the pirates forced Pelizzari and Calitz off the vessel.

International relations and co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the department would hold a briefing on the matter on Monday.

Today, The Mercury newspaper reported that the Somali pirates holding the couple hostage had demanded a $10 million (about R70 million) ransom from the South African government.

They had threatened to “make an example” of their hostages unless the ransom was paid.

The Mercury reported that the demand was made in a phone call from Somalia to a family member in mid-December.

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