Couple to face 'captors'
Monday, October 29, 2012
By: Nivashni Nair
Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz, the couple that were captured while sailing, arrive back safely at OR Tambo Airport, in Johannesburg, South Africa, after being released by their Somali captors.
Image by: PHOTOGRAPH: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES
Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were inseparable during their 20 hellish months of being held hostage by pirates - now they seldom get to see each other.
But the two will be in The Hague today, where five Somali men are standing trial in the International Criminal Court for allegedly kidnapping them off the Tanzanian coast two years ago.
It will be the first time that the couple will have been in each other's company since Pelizzari returned to Dar-es-Salaam more than two weeks ago.
"I think we are in a long-distance relationship. It has to be this way because we have to fulfil our different goals," Calitz said.
Pelizzari has returned to work as a trouble-shooter and trainer for a lift company in Dar-es-Salaam and Calitz has teamed up with a ghost-writer to tell the story of the ordeal, which began on October 26 2010 when Somali pirates boarded the Choizil, a yacht owned by Peter Eldridge.
"I spent 20 months with Bruno at my side and we remained strong. I miss him terribly. I don't know if I will move to Dar-es-Salaam after the book is released but if Bruno and I are meant to be, we will be."
Pelizzari is expected to testify in court today and Calitz will enter the witness box tomorrow.
"I am not scared. I want to talk to them but I know I won't be allowed to. I believe the accused are the men who took over the yacht. I really want to come face to face with the men who held us captive after we were sold to them. I don't know who will be in court but I am ready to testify," she said.
Eldridge refused to leave his vessel but the couple were forced to go with their captors. An EU warship rescued Eldridge.
Eldridge, who lived on his yacht off the coast of Dar-es-Salaam, was returning to Richards Bay to visit his family when he asked the couple to crew for him.
The couple were rescued in June this year in a joint operation by Italian and Somali security forces.
After spending two years locked up in different locations, being fed only rice and sharing no more than two litres of water a day with Pelizzari, Calitz is "taking it one day at a time".
"I am a different person now. A lot more positive. I don't take the simple and little things in life for granted. Yes, I have bad days, especially now that I am missing Bruno, but I am always appreciative of everything that I have," she said.