SA, Somalia discuss pirate hostages

2012-03-13 22:18

Johannesburg - South Africa and Somalia are hoping to resolve an impasse about the return of South Africans being held hostage there, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Tuesday.

"The continuing instability in other parts of Somalia sadly provides fertile ground for the scourge of piracy," Nkoana-Mashabane said in a statement.

"South Africa is concerned about the threat posed by piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, especially by the extended range of the piracy threat into the Mozambican channel."

She said Somali institutions needed to be strengthened to enable them to prosecute pirates.

Nkoana-Mashabane met her Somali counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Omar on Tuesday. The two concluded an agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Debbie Calitz, her partner Bruno Pelizzari, and skipper Peter Eldridge were confronted by pirates off the Tanzanian coast on October 26 2010, while they were sailing from Dar es Salaam to spend Christmas with friends and family in South Africa.

Eldridge refused to leave the yacht and escaped, but the pirates forced Pelizzari and Calitz off the vessel.

Last month, the relief organisation Gift of the Givers said it had received information that Pelizzari and Calitz had been "sold" and moved several times as a "commodity" since they were taken from the yacht.

The Gift of the Givers is assisting with the humanitarian relief effort in Somalia.

One of its members returned from a new area where it had started working on the coast and said he had seen two people he assumed were the two South Africans among 21 hostages being kept in the area.

Nkoana-Mashabane said her department met the Pelizzari and Calitz families on Sunday.

"We will keep contact with them and continue to render consular support and updates," she said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  bruno pelizzari  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  debbie calitz  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  pirates
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