Help release SA hostages, Somalis urged

2012-02-22 11:11

Johannesburg - Somalis are being asked to encourage the release of two South Africans who were kidnapped by pirates and are being held for ransom, the Gift of the Givers said on Wednesday.

"All Somalis in South Africa could make that appeal to encourage them to release the two," said Gift of the Givers head Imtiaz Sooliman. The organisation is part of a humanitarian relief effort in Somalia.

Sooliman confirmed a report in The Times on Wednesday that Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz had been "sold" and moved several times as a "commodity" since they were taken from the yacht Choizil in October while en route from Tanzania to Richard's Bay.

Sooliman said when the Gift of the Givers went to Mogadishu in August, it was told of their plight and was asked if it could help.


Through second and third parties, the organisation had been told that Pelizzari and Calitz had been "sold" several times, and that initially, several middlemen had negotiated their release.

"They were being treated like a commodity. By only having one negotiator, the ransom had dropped from $10m [about R77.27m] to $4m [about R30.9m], to $1.5m [about R11.59m] then $1m [about R7.72m] and now it is going below R1m," said Sooliman.

About a week ago, one of the organisation's people returned from a new area it had begun working in 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.

The woman, who he assumed was Calitz, was wearing Somali dress. She and the man looked well. He was not allowed to take photographs.

The people holding them complained that it was costing a lot of money to feed and care for them.

Sooliman said the South African government did not negotiate with pirates and did not become involved in ransom matters.


He hoped that it would help to appeal, locally, to the goodwill of Somalis and to lobby for their release in Somalia.

"We are asking Somali people in the country to show some goodwill," said Sooliman.

"South Africans have helped your people extensively," he said.

"As a gesture of goodwill, release the South Africans to us."

So far, the negotiations had been "calm" and there had been "a good dialogue", he said.

In August, a court in Rotterdam sentenced five people involved in the kidnapping to jail sentences for piracy and conspiracy to piracy.

A conference which will include discussions on safety in Somalia begins in London on Thursday.

  • George - 2012-02-22 11:25

    Wonder what would happen if it was an anc member?

      JasonEye - 2012-02-22 12:07

      Stupid statement, most of the Somalis her in SA are here as Refugees, how much could they do. Its laughable. SA government need to pull finger and take a stance..........bunch of soft C%$#s

      Gavin - 2012-02-22 12:17

      The blue light brigade would've rescued them the very next day.

      Robert - 2012-02-22 12:37

      I was thinking the same thing and yes Gavin the blue light brigade would have driven up there lights flashing guns waving as they do on our highways why?? because they like ANC officials, Taxi Drivers,JMP, SAPS are above the law in this country. I think some of these Somali refugees here should kidnap some of these idiots.

      JasonEye - 2012-02-22 14:11

      don't expect any help from the Somalians, they are a nasty bunch!

  • TheJaydedKing - 2012-02-22 11:28

    we have helped somalis a lot especially if you include xenophobic attacks.

  • vaughan.greene - 2012-02-22 11:29

    Do what the russians do, just go in and blow the pirates up. Thay have done it twice that I know of

      Thinus - 2012-02-22 11:38

      I do agree. South Africa has bought the means to do with the equipment acquired in the controversial arms deal. We might as well use these equipment and declare war against piracy.

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-02-22 11:42

      Problem is Thinus that we dont know how to use them, they just look pretty.

      Bigwolf - 2012-02-22 12:25

      Or do what USA does and pay for the service of ex sadf guys to do it right.

  • tmaphosa1 - 2012-02-22 11:29

    the govenment goes out their way to help ddrug mules what about innocent people.

  • Mohsin - 2012-02-22 11:55

    Ungrateful Somalians! we have the most superior military force in Africa ytf doesn't the army go & kick ass instead of doing peace missions in the rest of Africa bring our fellow citizens home u morons!

      Garysyd705 - 2012-02-22 12:25

      We had most superior military in Africa no its rat and mouse org thy call and army if thy call up to do some thing thy can go on strike!thy got the guns but not the now how!

      Bigwolf - 2012-02-22 12:27

      Problem is we have the numbers in SANDF but not the readyness to do such work. sadly as it stands we are no longer the force we once were.

      TheJaydedKing - 2012-02-22 19:10

      What are you guys talking about? We are a lethal machine of military might if you include AIDS in our arsenal.

  • Adam - 2012-02-22 12:10

    Lies..News24 tell lies!

      Kerry - 2012-02-22 12:18


  • agueorguiev - 2012-02-22 12:25

    i've been following this story on 94.7Fm. The family members here are left to do their OWN fundrasing for the ransom. By sending "S.O.S" TO 38417 you are donating to this worthy and very urgent cause. Call the Radio station if you don't believe me. I've done it. There is not enough backbone( or maybe even honest funding) to sneak in our Navy Seals and Rekkies to show these damn pirates the middle finger. It's 'obviaas'

      Pulverturm - 2012-02-22 14:09

      That's right, by sending an SMS to that number and helping pay the Ransom, you actually seal the fate of the next South Africans who get hijacked and held for twice the amount we pay this time! Seriously, there's a reason you don't negotiate with terrorists...

  • Gavin - 2012-02-22 12:27

    The future is over and there is no turning back. What an amazing world we live in. The US and the UK send their special forces to recover the kidnapped, in SA they have to go look up what kidnapped means...

  • lmapheto - 2012-02-22 12:49

    First it was a woman in Asian country who was killed for drug smuglin, we did nothing (talk talk) now we have to beg pirates to release our citizens? What happened to the words "to protect and serve" where is the SA Navy? this cant go on like this...the life of a South African is worth more than money (any human being for that matter) why do we gamble like this? South Africa wake is not only about talking...Positive Action...

  • Muneer23 - 2012-02-22 14:27

    OMW !!! Honestly I thought this saga had ended already...Have I been living under a rock, or does the media and goverment not want to show interest in this matter.. Geez this is sickening "The people holding them complained that it was costing a lot of money to feed and care for them" WTF !!!! My blood started to boil as I read that statement. Its human beings for crying out loud. I cannot imagine the state the family of the victims are in. For this saga to be prolonged like this...Does this goverment really not care...For Pete's Sake do something

  • Matthew - 2012-02-22 16:21

    Send in our Veterans pay some SADF guys to come out of retirement send in our Recce's ...JUST DO SOMETHING SOUTH AFRICA?! (government) whats disgusting the most,is that our government does nothing...sweet nix! this is actually the best time to go cliche and send our big guns we have the force,tools capability....USE IT.useless government

      Mancoba Dlamini - 2012-02-22 22:08

      Mancoba Dlamini - 2012-02-22 22:09

  • John - 2012-02-22 18:06

    Amazed at some of the senseless and uninformed comments on here. However, I'd like to commend "Gift of the Givers" for their efforts...

  • MakaNyawuzenkukhu - 2012-02-23 00:54

    Firstly, I fully commiserate with the families as well as an organization the two worked for. I just find this matter very sensitive as it involves family members who were sincerely aiming to render a humanitarian aid. An opinion of attacking or rescuing hostages by force needs appropriate planning where the aim will be a successful operation with hostages rescued than being put in more danger or risk of being used as shields. However, with consideration of the facts the government plans may not be made public at this stage because the pirates also have social networks. On this article it remains unspecified on how the trip from SA to Somaliland was planned, was there any provision or warning about chances of facing compromised safety once approaching or whilst in the waters dominated by these pirates. If this Somaliland is less active on valuing what’s brought free for their benefit then foreign countries has to stop considering putting their citizens in danger. The pirates claim huge amount of money at the other end the SA citizens were bringing help to Somalians who may also include pirates’ families, friends and relatives. Do we have to be sympathetic of the situation in Somalia [poverty etc] if they fail to put an effort on freeing our citizens, by the way there are many citizens in need in SA also. SA government please do your best by freeing hostages and step back on helping Somalia then as they do not value your services. Government please consult when necessary.

      Jacques - 2012-02-23 01:11

      Please mate our government does not care for anything but them selves. If they can steal money intended for the poor in our country how can they even think of trying to help a citizen kidnapped. Honestly the best thing to do for South Africans is donate money to the fund set up for it. After that ban travel in those waters and to that country

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