Calitz: We felt good vibes from SA

2012-06-27 22:37

Johannesburg - A tearful Debbie Calitz said at her arrival along with her partner Bruno Pelizzari on Wednesday that something kept them strong during their 20 months in captivity in Somalia.

"We must have felt the vibrations of South African people there, because something kept us strong," a tearful Calitz told media, friends and family at the OR Tambo International Airport.

"I thought it was a guardian angel... I think it was all the people... Thank you South Africa, we love you."

The pair arrived from Rome.

They were kidnapped on a yacht off the south-eastern coast of Africa by Somali pirates in October 2010.

They were held hostage until their release on Thursday last week.

Somali officials said on Thursday last week that the two had been freed in an operation by security forces and the army from "al-Qaeda-affiliated" insurgents.

The South African government helped secure their freedom in a joint effort with Italy and Somalia.

Calitz said they were treated "like animals" and handcuffed 24 hours a day during their captivity. Baths were limited and they were fed a high starch diet of rice, bread and pasta.

"It was just horrible."

She said the first thing she would do when she got home was to sleep for a while.


Both became new grandparents during their captivity, with Calitz acquiring two new grandsons and Pelizzari one.

"We haven't met them yet. It's going to be great. We are home, we are safe. There's lots of reuniting to be done," Calitz said.

Pelizzari, who spoke with difficulty, said he was a new man.

"It would take me four lifetimes to repay everybody."

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane welcomed the pair home, and jokingly asked if they had kissed the ground yet.

 She said it had been a very emotional and happy moment for two.

"You are home. Welcome home."

Nkoana-Mashabane thanked the South African, Somali and Italian governments for aiding in the couple's release.

"No one is going to take this freedom away from you."

She said the government would continue its efforts to bring back other South Africans held captive in other countries.

"We haven't given up."

  • BulletProof. - 2012-06-28 00:45

    I wonder who pay that ransom, but welcome and happy to see you back, you really have to say thank you to the heavens and to the people that pay your ransom, never ever again travel close to areas where is pirates around, that's means close to any coastal region of uncivilized Africa. Now the guys that try to give me thumbs down on the color opinion I have to tell them only one thing, I am colorless and respect human rights, if you want to give thumbs down on that one please do it , that will show your character

      nico.loubser.9 - 2012-06-28 07:28

      The Somalians (the good ones) pay over 800 000 USA Dollar. R100 000 from ordinary SAfricans. Makes you think, doesn't it.!

  • puse.mabuza - 2012-06-28 05:56

    Touchy story i can olny imagine how nice it is to feel free!happy for you guyz and your family.

  • chantal.swanepoel.3 - 2012-06-28 07:42

    Welcome Home!!!

  • Ryno - 2012-06-28 08:00

    hostages don't just get "released"?!?!? but apart from that - i am very very happy that they are safe and sound

  • sandy.kroukamp - 2012-06-28 08:23

    Welcome home after such a long time, how happy it must be to be reunited with SA and family.

  • Doc - 2012-06-28 12:54

    "and the army from "al-Qaeda-affiliated" insurgents", that must be one for the record books?

  • marie.delarey - 2012-06-28 14:30

    A good idea would be to write a book - in that way the reader can learn from their experiences and also it would be a way for them to work their way through it being able to come to terms with all the bad things and appreciate the good things and to move forward! God bless you. STERKTE!

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