Durban couple share horror of kidnap
"I actually thought sometimes that we might be in hell"
Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari, who were kidnapped by Somali pirates, said they were promised release three times before finally being freed, according to a report on Wednesday.
“They would treat us a little bit better every time it got closer to what they called a ’release’,” Pelizzari told East Coast Radio in an interview.
“It happened three times before we thought 'it’s never going to happen'.”
He said that he and Calitz became disheartened.
“When we were finally released we were quite immune, we didn’t want to go through it again, didn’t want to think about it. The only time we knew it was real was when we saw that aeroplane in front of us and we climbed into it.”
Calitz and Pelizzari were kidnapped on a yacht off the south-eastern coast of Africa by Somali pirates in October 2010.
They were held hostage for about 20 months until their release last week.
They conducted the interview with East Coast Radio from Rome, shortly before boarding a flight to South Africa where they are due to arrive on Wednesday.
Being held captive by Somali pirates was “hell”, Calitz said in the interview.
“I actually thought sometimes that we might be in hell.”
Nevertheless, she said she never gave up hope, especially of one day seeing her children again.
“You can’t, you can’t go down there into the dark, because then you’ll disappear.”
Calitz said that until her ordeal, she had not realised people could be so cruel.
She and Pelizzari both spent two birthdays in captivity. Calitz will meet two of her grandchildren for the first time when she arrives in South Africa.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is expected to meet Calitz and Pelizzari on their arrival.
Calitz’s brother Dale van der Merwe said the couple would have some time with her family after that.
They would then spend a few days at the president’s house in Pretoria, where they would give the authorities as much information as they could on their experience.
The South African government helped secure their freedom in a joint effort with Italy and Somalia.
Details of the terms of their release are not yet known.