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Freed South African hostages Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari, who gave evidence in the Hague this week against the Somali pirates who held them hostage, have closed the final chapter on their ordeal.
Yesterday Pelizzari flew back to Dar-es-Salaam where his yacht is based and has returned to work for a lift company. Calitz flew to the UK to visit her daughter, where she will continue work on her book 20 Months of Hostage Hell.
Speaking from the Netherlands on Thursday, Pelizzari said he and Calitz spent the day with Captain Gerrit Nijenhuis, former commanding officer of HNLMS Amsterdam, one of the first on the scene with French frigate Floreal when they were kidnapped off the yacht Choizil.
The couple spent the first three days of the week at the International Criminal Court where five suspected pirates are standing trial.
They had each appeared at closed hearings.
Calitz said being in the Hague had been a huge eye-opener as to how many people were involved behind the scenes and trying to organise their rescue.
“It’s been an amazing week. We never realised there were so many people from all over the world involved and all the people who were working behind the scenes to try and rescue us.”
The couple had just had lunch on board an 1865 relic ship at the Dutch Naval Museum in Den Helder on the outskirts of Amsterdam, with Nijenhuis and director of the Dutch Navy Museum and Royal Netherlands Navy Commander, Harry de Bles. They also spent time touring the navy museum with the two naval officers, which houses the actual skiffs which were seized during the arrest of the pirates.
Yesterday Captain Nijenhuis said The Amsterdam was patrolling when they came across the hijacked Choizil.
“Debbie and Bruno had already been taken, but Peter Eldridge had refused to leave his yacht. We took him on board and took him to Mombasa.
“We went back to the area and over the next five months caught 44 pirates. Near the place where Debbie and Bruno were taken, we caught 16 pirates and we took the skiffs where evidence in them was linked to the case. We were ordered to arrest them and the evidence against the five who are appearing is very strong. We believe the case against them is watertight,” said Nijenhuis.
The hearing is due to be wrapped up next week.
Calitz and Pelizzari said that touring the Dutch Navy Museum and seeing the skiffs had helped bring closure.
“These three skiffs still had all the paraphernalia, knives, guns and even cigarettes from Mozambique in them. We have been able to see the whole story now. I know I will never be the same person again. But it’s time to move on and we are closing a chapter,” said Calitz.
Independent on Saturday