Ransom Concert

The desperate families of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner Debbie Calitz, kidnapped by pirates in Somalia, have organised a concert to raise funds to secure their release from the captors, who are demanding $1.5m (R12m).

Concert to raise ransom

Chris Makhaye, The New Age

The desperate families of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner Debbie Calitz, kidnapped by pirates in Somalia, have organised a concert to raise funds to secure their release from the captors, who are demanding $1.5m (R12m).

Efforts to release the Durban couple, including intervention by the South African government and NGOs, have so far failed.

The pirates are believed to have “sold” them to Somali rebels who are demanding money for their release.

The pair were captured in October 2010, when Choizil – the yacht they were working on as crew – was ambushed by pirates off the Madagascar/Mozambique Channel.

The yacht’s skipper, Peter Eldridge, apparently refused to get off the vessel and was later rescued and brought back home.

Debbie’s brother, Dale van der Merwe, yesterday said: “These guys (pirates) are only interested in ­dollars. We studied other cases before this and we have realised that families had to pay ransom to these pirates to secure the release of their family members.

“We are raising the money to try and get them released. Otherwise they can keep them for many years – five to 10 years.

“They don’t care about time because all they want is their money. For us families, every day without them is like a year.”

Van der Merwe said the government was willing to help, but its hands were tied. “The government said they could help us but they could not negotiate and pay ransom to the pirates.

“They said if they did that with even one citizen, South African nationals would become targets to be hijacked.”

The families hoped to raise funds at the concert this weekend and other functions in the future to secure the release of his sister and her partner.

Saturday’s concert, dubbed Bring Them Home, will feature at least 19 individuals and groups in such genres as house, rock and roll, blues and country music at Cane Cutters, Sheffield Beach, north of Durban.

Pelizzari’s sister, Vera Hecht, said she spoke to her brother late last year. She is adamant the couple are still alive.

“About two weeks ago I sent ‘proof of life’ questions to them, which only the couple could answer, and they responded by answering the ­questions correctly,” Hecht said. “This has assured us they are still alive.”

She had offered some ransom to the pirates and rebels and she was waiting for their response. “I cannot disclose the amount because I might arouse the bad guys who would want to harm my brother and his partner.”
Source: The New Age

See: Family Take Over Negotiations http://www.marsecreview.com/2012/03/family-take-over-negotiations/

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