SA didn’t pay ransom for Durban couple

2012-06-21 14:22
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SA hostages freed

A South African couple taken hostage by Somali pirates have been freed. See all the pictures just hours after they were released by their captors.

Johannesburg - South Africa thanked the Italian and Somali authorities on Thursday for the safe return of a local couple held captive by pirates for 20 months.

"The couple was released unharmed and is receiving consular support from the South African mission to Somalia, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya," said international relations spokesperson Nelson Kgwete.

"Arrangements are being made for the return of the couple to South Africa."

He said South Africa's ambassador to Somalia, Ndumiso Ntshinga, was in contact with the couple, Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari.

Somali authorities had confirmed that they were in good health and eager to be reunited with their loved ones.

The two were kidnapped in October 2010 from a yacht off the south-eastern coast of Africa. Their pirate captors originally demanded a ransom of $10m.

Kgwete told eNews that it was the "policy of the South African government not to pay ransoms" but refused to state whether or not Italy paid a ransom.

The Associated Press reported that the couple was among the longest-held hostages by pirates.

At a press conference in Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu, Calitz and Pelizzari smiled but appeared exhausted, AP said.

"We are very happy to get our freedom again," Calitz said.

"We are so happy today and to join our families again."

Somalia's defence minister Hussein Arab Isse credited Somali security forces with helping secure the couple's release.

Isse said the couple were freed in a raid in a joint operation conducted by Somali security forces and the army. Sources said the operation took place in the lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia.

- SAPA
Read more on:    bruno pelizzari  |  deborah calitz  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  somali pirates  |  pirates  |  good news
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