Hostage Situation


South African yacht crew members Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were captured a year ago (October 2010), by Somali pirates, at the entrance to the Mozambique/ Madagascar Channel.

The hostage takers are currently demanding US $4 million for their release.  This amount had been dropped in March 2011, but was raised again after interference with negotiations.

Diplomatic attempts by the South African Government, to secure their release have been unsuccessful.

Two family members have been taken and are being held in unknown conditions, possibly subject to abuse and/or deprivation. The families are unable to raise anything close to an amount that would be acceptable to the hostage takers and are appealing to the generosity of the public, from all walks of life:

SOS is the internationally accepted distress signal ‘Save Our Souls’


We are a Registered Non Profit Organisation:
NPO Number 093-657 (09/09/201​1)


Bruno Pelizzari (52) is the only son of a widowed mother in her 80′s, and a father of two, who was en route to see his newly-born grandson, Calvin, when he was kidnapped.

Debbie Calitz (49) is a mother of four children, and was also on the way to see her new grandson, Dominic. She doesn’t know about her second granddaughter, Niquita, who was born in September 2011, and a third one is now on the way.

Usually pirates attack large ships carrying valuable cargo, covered by insurance and backed by large companies. These are two working-class individuals with no ship, no cargo and no insurance.

Chronological Timeline:

  • 23 Oct 2010: A basic South African yacht, the Choizil, set out from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Richards Bay, South Africa for repairs. Captained by Peter Eldridge, with Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz as crew
  • 26 Oct 2010: Yacht hijacked by 12 pirates as it was about to enter the Madagascar / Mozambique Channel. Pirates changed the course Northbound. When the Choizil approached the Somali coastline, a naval vessel attempted to assist, but kept its distance, for fear of hostages being harmed.
  • 6 Nov 2010: The yacht was beached at Baraawe, Somalia. The two crew members were taken ashore but skipper Peter Eldridge refused to leave his vessel, despite being severely beaten, and was later rescued by members of the naval vessel.
    Families were notified by the Department of International Relations that the couple had been taken hostage.
  • 14 Dec 2010: Families in SA received the first call from the pirates. Initial ransom demand was US $10 million.
  • 28 Mar 2011:   Ransom had been dropped to US $500,000 (half a million).
  • 19 Aug 2011: Ransom demand increased and currently stands at US $4 million, after interference with negotiations.
  • 22 Aug 2011:  First communication with one of the hostages, thus confirming they are still alive! Bruno Pelizzari was allowed, by his captors, to speak briefly to his sister, only to confirm that they (the hostages) would not be released without the payment of a ransom.
  • 18 Oct 2011: The family negotiator was permitted to speak to and record the conversations with both Bruno and Debbie; with a view for the families to use the recording on any media platform possible in order to generate the funds to obtain the release of both hostages.


 Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

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94 thoughts on “Hostage Situation

  1. Hey ! people ~ I’ve just done my good deed for the day ~
    I’ve just discovered you DO NOT NEED TO HAVE a PayPal Account to make a contribution, using the “Donate” button
    Most Debit or Credit Cards can be used
    Once you have clicked on “Donate,” the script below, is mid-left of the screen >
    click on “Continue” > just type in your info > confirm > and Walla! . . . all done!
    [ Don't have a PayPal account? ]
    [ Use your credit card or bank account (where available). Continue ]
    I have met this couple – good, humble people – We have to save them, come on!

  2. I think that everyone can start sending sms’s to their friends,e-mail and facebook,so everyone can contribute !! I just did all 3 ,I hope and pray that you will get enough to get your family home and safe.

    • I have put the link up on facebook i have bbmed everyone on my phone and have contributed money as well, I have also sent a message to East Coast Radio… I REALLY PRAY THAT ALL SOUTH AFRICAN’S COME TOGETHER TO HELP THIS FAMILY IN DESPRITE NEED..

      • Thank you, Tarryn – we appreciate every effort made – we can and will reach our goal with a little help and support like yours
        from all the amazing people like yourself :)
        Thank you

  3. Do you have a facebook page that we can be linked to? I have made people aware of the website but perhaps it will spread quicker if you have a facebook page.
    Good luck, I hope you get them home safely and soon!

    • Hey Kelly-Anne, yes we do…search for our group in facebook “SOS Bruno and Debbie”

      or better yet, we’ve just added a link to the group on this website (look at the left-hand-side bar).

      ~ Thank you!

  4. I hope that everyone in SA and around the world can come together and share some hope and make it happen! A little from everyone goes a long way!
    I pray for their safe return!

  5. Hi there. I hope you get your family back. Just wondering, how much is the ransom in SA Rands, and how far away from this target are you?

    • US $4 Million, is a crazy un-thinkable amount in SA Rands (like R 30 million)
      but they did come down from $10 million, so if we can do our best at collecting whatever we can and waft a tidy enough sum under their noses, they might just accept what we can offer.
      We, the families, on our own could never collect an amount that the hostage takers would even consider, to be acceptable. We are still a long way away from an amount that we could even mention to them.
      Many thanks to you for your help and interest, we really need all the help we can get
      AND for your good wishes

  6. My heart felt thoughts and wishes are with Bruno, Debbie and their families.

    I sincerely hope they will come home soon.

    I have spread the word for donations as much as possible.

    All the best and good luck…

    • Thank you Patrick – It has truly been a very long year
      and hope that with a little bit of effort from lots and lots of people,
      we will be able to appear on the news reports with very good news soon

  7. Hi there
    Great page. Its great to see so many people doing their bit.
    Myself and a colleague wrote the book “The Grail Guide to Anti Piracy”. We are sending the profits to the fund.
    As both Debbie and Bruno are now in to their second year we are aiming to keep their plight alive with regular reposting of your link on our Grail Guide to Anti Piracy Facebook page. If you ever thinks it helps to post on the Grail Guide Facebook page please do.
    Warmest Regards

  8. Hi there
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and we are doing as much as we can to try and raise as much money as we can to help you. We are having a birthday lunch for my boss on the 27 November and all the proceeds will go toward your cause. Don’t ever give up hope… All the best

  9. This is really sad that they have been abducted for a year now and our goverment does nothing about it,,,IT SUCKS..yet we have to pay so much taxes etc…but they cant save lives …i give a damn about this goverment now,,

  10. Great effort, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a great readers’ base already!|What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve found It absolutely astounding. I’m hoping to give a contribution &amp. Good luck.

  11. Perhaps an off the wall suggestion, but have you considered raising enough money to approach people that would be interested in going in to rescue them instead of trying to raise enough to give to the pirates?

    Either way I send love and light to everyone involved with this and pray for their safe return!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Dominique :)
      We wish we could, but to employ a good team for successful results would cost just as much money, if not even more. One way or another we have to do whatever we can and it needs money . . .
      We wish the pirates would realise that we are just ordinary, working class people from South Africa – the fact that they demand US dollars is so frustrating for us, and that they want so much, is just plainly, near impossible . . . We just hope Bruno and Debbie remain strong and manage to hold on until we can get them out . . . it is so crazy.
      It is like we only have half the movie . . . we need the other half . . . with the likes of Rambo, Airwolf, The A-Team . . . This is as crazy as the movies but we have any been dealt the bad, shitty end . . . we still wait for the miracle end.

      • Just wondering did you try get hold of there government? Cant they help us in any way?
        i mean we have allot of their people living in our country & we take them like South Africans

        • They have a Transitional Federal Government – Many War Lords fighting against this TFG
          ALI himself, tells us that Somalia is a constant War Zone

          Anyways, we would have expected our government to have contacted their government – it is the least they could do :-/
          Is that not what they meant when they say that Diplomatic Attempts have been made?

  12. Hi Vera

    I wanted to inform you of our donation, not just so you know we have donated, but so you know there are people thinking of and supporting your efforts to help Bruno and Debbie in this tragic circumstance. At my Partners year end funtion the company decided to donate R400 to a charity of each persons choice. My partner and I proposed the SOS Bruno Debbie fund, and subsequently I have received an email that R800 was donated on our behalf. I truly hope that Bruno and Debbie will be released soon. keep strong and continue on with your tremendous efforts… All the Best, Patrick

    • Thanks so much Patrick – we really appreciate it, that you actually DID something towards our cause – so many people see or hear about it and just walk or look the other way. We did notice the deposit thank you :) and we have also received the letter from the Faculty with regards to the Donation – We still need to reply – as you can imagine, replying to emails etc and sifting through the garbage that some people find it necessary to to dump on us is almost a full-time job; and we need to hold onto our own jobs and lives at the same time. This has been such a hectic time of our lives, we cannot wait for Bruno and Debbie to be home safe and sound.
      There are so many that visit this site and are under the impression that it is some kind of writing project or something . . . they don’t realise that this LIFE and DEATH situation of ours is VERY REAL.
      I must say, it is good to see how you keep abreast of current events in the news – It was very thoughtful of you to have chosen our case to support with the funds that were made available to you.
      Kind regards to you, Patrick and your partner

  13. Hi,

    Very sad situation that is, and I am very sorry what have happened to your family.
    Talking to my Somali colleague in South Africa would like to participate the fund raising events.
    Please feel free to contact with me in order to achieve this goal.

  14. The Americans sent in their Navy seals a couple weeks back and performed a successful operation in the middle of the night. What happened to South Africa flexing it’s muscles, using it’s highly training Task force to do the same, is South Africa spineless that it can even save it’s own (Black or White)? Guys, lets get the funds together to save this couple and to show the SA Gov that we can do it without them.

    • “United we shall stand”
      What we need is South Africans!!
      If we all stand together and do the things that really matter…
      we’ll find that the Government seems soooooo small and SOUTH AFRICANS STAND BIG AND TALL!!!

  15. This is a clear indication how the South African government does not do anything about their people.

    I just want to let you know that I have sent my sms and will spread the word as much I possible can

    take care

  16. Heard the radio 9.47 & this is very bad. I sent sms’s from both my phone & sent BBM msgs & posted links on my Facebook page. i hope & pray we can get them back.

    • Thank you for your thoughts, help and support – Hopefully this will get us closer to the point of resolving this horrible ordeal

  17. I sat in tears this morning listening to highveld radio. It is with regret that I say that I knew when this all started, but never realised that the hell you and your family were facing is still going on for 15 months. I am ashamed of being a South African, whilest our polititions squander millions on private planes, cars and Julius Malemas parties which he still has not justified his millions spent. Our govenment has become so currupt and greedy for money that they will never consider contributing be even sending out special ops teams for rescue. All I can say to you Vera, is hang in there, stay strong, Die God wat ons dien sal hulle weer huis toe bring.

    • Thank you ~ Baie Dankie ~ for your support and for sharing and spreading the word
      The frustration and helplessness has left us feeling VERY LONELY in this big crazy world of ours

  18. Hi,

    Really thinking about you and cannot imagine how difficult this must be. I have sent a couple of SMS’s and posted to Face Book so hopefully some of my friends will donate. How far along are you in your fund raising efforts?

    • Thank you for your help and support – How far we are? Is a Big Question
      The answer is only known by those holding them ~ How low will they go ?

  19. Hi Vera

    All the best for you and your family during this tough time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    I listened to 94.7 this morning and I heard you speaking with Darren. Both me and my husband sms’ed immediately.

    Is the latest demand still $4 million?

    If I may ask, how far does the end seem?

    I think and sincerely hope that every person opens their hearts and we can get them home before the end of this year!!

    Good luck!!

    • Thanks to you & your husband
      and to all those that have contributed – without leaving messages
      What we cannot get the pirates to understand is that Bruno, Debbie and we, their families, are “just average South Africans “.
      How in the world do they expect us to raise US$ 4 million!!
      We are hoping, that when we have raised a reasonable amount, they will just give in and accept it.
      The worst is that they talk in US$ from us here in South Africa
      Our South African Rand not good enough . . .

      • Thanks for your response Vera.

        I was so proud to hear the numbers this morning on 94.7, in 2 hours 60 000 sms’s!!! It was awesome to hear that people still have a heart.

        I want to call on everyone (and I have seen the map of the various on countries visiting this website) lets get this family back together!!

        A grandmother, grandfather, mother, father and bother is asking for your help. If I was unable to see my mother for 15 months, I can’t even think of it! I see my mom every day.

        I am praying that 3.2 million ordinary working class people can set aside R10 and help two fellow South Africans.

        Considering the amount of tax we pay our corrupt government, who is not willing to help. In actual fact, they can’t account for R25 billion of what individuals and companies have contributed in taxes.

        $4 million is a lot of money, but even that amount of money can’t replace a life and would not be able to buy that moment when they are set free and the joy of a family reunited and a South African victory!

        Come on guys, lets get them home for Christmas, maybe even before!!

  20. Just contributed via sms, wish we could do more.
    Telling everyone about it?

    How much have you raised??

    Can the american government not help you??
    It is really ridiculous that south african government cant send our navy or make contact with the rebels, but our government gives money to somalia to help their people??

    • Thanks for your help and support
      ~ hopefully this message gets to those that we are battling to convince

      ~ those holding Bruno and Debbie ~
      Please, we are just Ordinary People – we are relying on the help and support of other Ordinary People
      ~ Let us have our loved ones back home, please ~

  21. Hi Vera,

    Just to let you know that I have sent a couple of smses and ensure all my friends and family have too. I have broadcasted the below message as well sent it around my office..

    Two South Africans taken hostage in 2010 by Somali pirates….

    If you would like to help Bruno and Debbie go to or if you can spare the R10 sms SOS to 38417 (sms option only available for SA numbers) (pls check website for other ways to contribute)

    SOS Campaign to rescue Bruno and Debbie.

    God be with you and your family and most of all with Bruno and Debbie.

    • ~ Thank You ~ Thank You ~ We really hope that we can get them Home Soon, with the help and support of lots more people like you, we can do this ~ United we shall Stand

  22. What makes me want to boil is that our so called goverment won’t help this cause, and this is not only because the victims is white people, they won’t even do it for their own people. Shame on you!!!

  23. Family of Bruno and Debbie, I cannot express the respect that I have for you for holding it together this long. I think that South African should take note. I have sent my bbm as well as an email, informing people where they can make donations, and what number they can sms, I have made mine, and I am encouraging my friends to do this at least once a month. I truly hope it does the rounds so that you can get your family back. No words can describe what you must be going through.

    “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ”
    ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

  24. I remember seeing this on Carte Blanche a few months ago and thought to myself that I must help in someway but then it left my mind. Today I received this link from a friend and knew if I didn’t do something immediately I would risk it becoming one of those “shucks I keep forgetting to go back to the website and get that sms number”. I have now sent my sms and have saved the number so when I can I will send more sms’s. I have also sent to my bbm contacts, facebook etc.

    Don’t let this leave your mind, don’t let this become one of those “to do list” items. Do it now!! The sooner the funds get raised the sooner Bruno and Debbie can come home. I can’t even imagine what the family is going through but my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Thank you :) I’m sure this is the case with many others – but we appreciate you having done something now, and for taking the time to convey your open and honest message :)

  25. Dear Bruno & Debbie’s Family members,

    I heard about this terrible situation on the radio (Highveld Stereo) this morning, including the recordings, and as Darren Simpson (DJ) sent his SOS contribution sms, I sent mine too. I will now make sure all my family and friends alert as many people as possible to call them to action too.
    We will pray for a safe & speedy return!
    God Bless

  26. We serve the Almighty God and ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! I will keep Debbie, Bruno and their friends and families in my prayers.

    In the meantime I am also spreading the word to make people aware of the situation and how to contribute! I will continue contributing as much as I can afford for as long as needed.

    God Bless

    • Keeping the faith has been our inner stabilising structure – in more ways than one – Faith in knowing that Bruno and Debbie will not cause trouble, that may be detrimental to their well being. Faith in Humanity, that there HAS TO BE A LIVE NERVE WITH FEELINGS in these ‘people’ that are committing this Horrific Crime against other innocent Humans – after being in their company for so long – there has to be a certain amount of knowledge of each other, not to hurt them in any way – for nothing . . . Faith in eventually finding the help we need to resolve this situation

  27. I really was touch with your story on the radio this morning . I am currently in contact
    with all my family and friends to help with any donations. As they say there is never
    a small amount everything helps. My prayers are with you and your family I know you will get them back.

    • Thank you :) every drop eventually fills the bucket – our problem is the size of the Somali Pirate Bucket is so ridiculously large – Hopefully they will understand our predicament, at some point SOON and eventually call it a day and accept what we have

  28. I am so disgusted by what has happened to your family and since hearing about the situation on highveld, I have been telling everyone I know.
    At the moment I cannot contribute much but I hope that in spreading the word, it will make a difference.
    Your family will be in our prayers untill they are returned safely.

  29. Hi
    When life gives you lemons, lets unite as the people of South Africa and make the best lemon juice, if we stand together we can bring our brother and sister home, because as one WE can do the impossible, unlike our so called government who won’t fight for the lives of their own but who will waste our taxpayers money (which I am sure could have brought Debbie and Bruno home by now) on legal fees to get our presidents name cleared of CORRUPTION!!!! I think it stinks!!!!, Well the saying goes, if you want something done, do it yourself, so come on, let’s do it!!!! Let’s bring Debbie and Bruno home to their families.

    Good luck and God Bless!!!

  30. Hi Vera, i have just sent off two sms’s (one on behalf of my hubby) – when I heard the story on Highveld yesterday, it was devastating to say the least. However, yourself, Bruno and Debbie, and all your family members are certainly in our thoughts and prayers. Let us pray that by the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ, that Bruno and Debbie will be returned safely as soon as possible! Let us never give up faith or hope EVER.

  31. Am an optimistic person by nature. But Rand 30,000,000.00…… I soo hope you will get there! Would love to deposit Rand 1,000,000.00 but I will have to scrap a few zeros. We just became grandparents and now know how those little ones change your lives. They NEED the hugs and kisses and spoiling.
    How about organising a pick-nick in a park, with some celebreties/singer/band. Like we did the Christmas Carols in days gone by.

    • Oh! they, the captors, are being STUPID . . . How they can expect to receive an amount like this for two “little” people is CRAZY ! We all know lives are priceless, but this is the kind of price for a huge ship loaded with cargo and the value of business that is lost whilst mooring off that dreaded HORN – Big companies cannot afford to loose a ship alone valued at ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS – plus the CARGO worth who knows what and the loss of business – so they pay the price
      BUT how they can expect us ORDINARY FAMILIES to come up with a similar amount is SIMPLY ABSURD . . .
      We were planning something like that, but the numbers and work involved were mind blowing – for very little revenue at the end of it all . . . besides we all have 9 to 5 jobs for our own survival – trying to fit this in, as well, . . . and expect it to be a success, is crazy

  32. I travel around the world quit alot and stay at many different locations. I have decided to make some pamphlets and stick them up where ever I can so people can see.
    This needs to get more attention from the rest of the world!!!!

  33. Dear Sam, Roger and Vera

    I am positive that eventually Debbie and Bruno will be home safely and Dominic and Nikita will meet their granny. Sometimes my grandchildren drive me nuts, but I have realised how lucky I am to be driven nuts by them!

    To all the grannies out there, send your SoS, if not for Debbie and Bruno but merely because you are grateful that you know your grandchildren and see them regularly.

    They will be home soon!


  34. The family needs to get another country, like Russia, to negotiate. They know how to deal with those folks. A Scandinavian country or Germany could be good too. If the “businessmen” holding them are Muslims, maybe one of the Middle Eastern countries would be willing to put up the necessary funds and negotiate to obtain their release. It seems that the South African government has no influence. Also, get the word out to the surfing community, especially the big surf corporations – they would make contributions too. Just trying to be helpful and will certainly contribute.

  35. Made a contribution via paypal yesterday and spreading the word via my facebook page, hope it helps the family and gets Bruno and Debbie home soon!!! This has gone on too long, they need to come home xx thoughts and prayers continually with you all.

    • Thank you :) very much – we do need all the help we can get to spread the word – It has gone on way too long – A home-coming is LONG OVER DUE !
      Thanks Again :)

  36. Just made a donation via paypal from Europe after seeing the article on sky news this morning and so hope many more do the same!

    Wishing for their safe return to you all sooner than soon xox

  37. Hi guys,
    managed to make a small donation, wish I could do more, but every little helps I guess. You are all in our prayers.
    How much have you managed to raise so far?


    • Thank you Lauren,
      Every drop eventually fills the bucket . . . :)
      Just wish the Somali’s would be more realistic and understand where we are coming from
      According to the pirates we have not raised enough :(

  38. I’ve created a page on Oink Midrand My co. will give any company in South Africa 12 months advertising worth R1000 if they contribute R750 or more to this. Copy and paste the web link above into your browser for an example of the web pages I create. Both pages at appear at No.1 on Google for numerous keywords & phrases relative to their areas, products and services. Companies can get in touch via my link.

    I cannot imagine how long their days must be – Craig

    • Oh my Golly :) This is a very kind gesture, Thank you
      Apologies for not replying sooner but things have been more hectic than ever these past few weeks – we really wish these Somali Rebels would realise where we come from, it is impossible to get anything close to what they want. They should just take what we have to offer and just let Bruno and Debbie come home already

  39. I am so happy for you all to hear the wonderful news that Bruno and Debbie are safe and on their way home. Your courage and fortitude have won the day. Wishing you all the very happiest of reunions.

  40. hi,

    i have been following this story on this website but am suprised that it hasnt been updated that they have been released.


  41. Yesterday was such a magic day. The arrival of Debbie and Bruno in South Africa was a dream coe true I a sure. Just so happy that in this case there was a happy ending.

    What will happen to this website now? Will Debbie and Bruno and the family responsible for this site continue to focus on the plight of others who are held by this human trash?

    Welcome back guys! Life just returned a good result and that’s something to be happy about and seriouslly grateful for.

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